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Guest Column: Communities need to be more accepting of transgendered

January 8, 2014

By Zane Marshall

The rights of transgendered individuals is an increasingly visible issue within our culture, and support for the Tran-Rights movement is growing, in a similar fashion to the growing acceptance of the gay rights movement. Sadly, however, there is still a major preponderance of hate crimes against transgendered individuals, and as a result of their fairly recent visibility (in comparison to the gay and lesbian community), they are frequently marginalized by certain gays and lesbians themselves, almost seeing themselves as some kind of “Pure Queer” and those who fail to fit gender binaries don’t belong.

I am deeply, deeply troubled by the fact that for thousands of years, there have been millions of people who have been biologically one gender, and another gender inside. The thought of all that mental anguish and suffering is something beyond my comprehension. Growing up and dealing with those issues involving mind and body are hard enough without society taking such a prudish stance toward these individuals.

Employment discrimination is a major issue involving the transgendered community. In the vast majority of states, there are no laws preventing discrimination based on gender identity, and in my personal experience, I have never once applied for a job and seen anything about the company not discriminating on the basis of gender identity.

Poverty is a major issue among the transgendered community, and this difficulty finding employment and a steady supply of money makes it extremly expensive and difficult to procure gender re-assignment surgery. The rights of the employer pale in comparison to the right of every person, regardless of gender identity, to be able to perceive happiness.

Additionally, the government should provide gender reassignment surgery and horomone therapy for free to its citizenry. The American Psychological Association itself has stated that the best thing a person who has issues with gender issues is to obtain horomone therapy and/or reassignment surgery.

Many individuals who cannot afford hormone therapy have been forced to buy it illegally, and because of lack of medical knowledge, have ended up harming themselves. It should be noted that there is a black market for estrogen and testosterone, and that providing said drugs for free on prescription would eliminate one illegal source of income.

However (and this is a much greater goal), transgendered individuals need to be offered more acceptance by their communities. Recent polls show that the rate of attempted suicide among transgendered individuals is about four times the average rate. We have to truly understand that not every person identifies as their assigned gender. This isn’t easy and is a process that we all have to try to improve from within if we’re going to get anywhere. In all honesty, I still accidentally refer to my transgendered friends by their biological gender on accident, but I’m working on it. Let’s stop staring at every person we see in drag (unless we like that person).

Stark homophobia itself is something that truly needs to be fixed, though. While our heteronormative, and slightly discriminatory, views are hurtful, the main danger is still blatant transphobes. The transgendered, especially transwomen, have consistently faced all sorts of violence from hateful (and probably repressed) individuals. The troubling thing about this is much of our society accepts this, putting forth arguments like, “They shouldn’t go out dressed like that if they don’t want to get hit.” As though a person should have to compromise who they are for anther’s ignorance!

I have seen my friends get beaten up for far too long, and I, as a person with the privilege of being totally male in this society, am obligated to take a stand. I beseech all of you to read up on the facts about the transgendered and the struggles they face. They are a brave bunch, merely for being themselves, and we should work together to build a town (and a world) where everyone can be themselves!

Zane Marshall is a Rockford resident.

From the Jan. 8-14, 2014, issue

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