How society treats those who are Trans, genderqueer, or genderfluid
Society can be unkind to those who are different from them; just look at how we treat Native Americans, African Americans and now the refugees from Syria.
Society can be just abrasive to those who do not identify as their assigned gender at birth.
Those who are transgender, genderqueer, or genderfluid.
The issue was brought to the forefront, on Nov. 3, in Texas when a bill, named Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), was voted down.
The ballot question read “Are you in favor of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Ord. No. 2014-530, which prohibits discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual’s sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy?”
The problem started at “gender identity.”
To clarify, according to dictionary.com transgender means “a person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s biological sex assigned at birth.” Genderqueer as, “a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.” Genderfluid is defined as “a person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities.”
This mouthful aside, all 3 terms are ways of defining genders without the cookie cutter male/female. While it seems complicated to those who are cis-gender (a person who identifies with their assigned gender), that doesn’t give anyone the right to criminalize any person who identifies as trans or other just for being who they are.
These three terms blanket the idea of gender identity.
The main idea of the HERO bill itself was to protect all citizens in Houston, Texas, reading “The city council finds that all persons living in, working in or visiting the City are entitled to be treated with equal dignity and respect and have the right to be free from discriminatory and unequal treatment.”
The bill was voted down due to a series of advertising campaigns claiming that this law would allow any man posing as a woman (even sex offenders) to use the women’s restrooms in public to sexually harass and rape women. That idea came from the section in the bill that stated “The City Council finds that discrimination on the basis of Protected Characteristics in privately owned and operated public accommodations, including… public conveyances “”Public Accommodations”) results in the unjust exclusions of persons…”
So, if they identify with a gender, they can use that restroom in public.
This made a lot of people uncomfortable, and I don’t blame them. It’s different and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean a group should be shunned because they make you uncomfortable.
According to Alfred Adler and Colin Brett’s book, “Understanding Human Nature: The Psychology of Personality,” its human nature to be uncomfortable when presented by unknown information. Their findings state, “We must not blame bearers of a physical disability or a disagreeable character trait for their indignation. They are not responsible for it.”
While I don’t agree with the term “disagreeable character trait,” the statement states that we shouldn’t make people feel bad for how they were born or how they feel.
This bill is just the tip of the iceberg.
Probably the most relevant example of back lash on any part of the trans/genderqueer/genderfluid community was the news about Caitlyn Jenner. She recently came out as Trans and stated that her name is no longer Bruce.
Now, there are many reasons why people had such a hard backlash. For one, so many grew up with “Bruce” Jenner, Olympic star, and immediately freaked when she came out. A Facebook war ensued, defining who is “brave,” and what it means to stand up for your rights.
But she isn’t the only trans person to gain the spotlight.
In 2014, Leelah Alcorn, 17, committed suicide after her parents tried to push her into something she’s not.
According to the police report, she died from blunt force trauma after she stepped in front of a semi-truck.
She posted a suicide note to the website tumblr.com stating ‘If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Her note was lengthy, stating, “I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4.”
“When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong,” Alcorn said.
Alcorn explained that when she came out at school, her parents pulled her out, taking away her laptop, cell phone, forced her to stay away from social media, and didn’t allow her to see any friends. “They wanted me to be their perfect little straight Christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted,” Alcorn said.
“I was completely alone for 5 months,” Alcorn said.
The last line of her note begged for others to fix what caused her to end her life, so others wouldn’t follow, saying, “I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s fucked up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.”
Her parents had her buried as Joshua.
This is the point where I usually give any information about our great state for gender questions and laws, but Michigan really ignores the issue.
One of the few pieces of information I did find was at MichiganTransgender.gov, stating that “There is no law in Michigan restricting restroom use. However, the use of the wrong restroom does fall under ‘disturbing the peace.’”
That being said, a few states are trying to put in place the “all gender” restrooms, where anyone of any identity can use the facilities.
The issue isn’t just one of what bathroom you can use.
The words of Leelah Alcorn are left in my head, “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights.”
And for transgender people, genderqueer people, and genderfluid people that may be reading this: You are valid.