By Angie Burkhart |Staff Writer|
The term “transgender” is often misconstrued, in my opinion, because quite frankly, people don’t understand the true definition.
I believe the confusion lies in differentiating between sex and gender.
While most people believe being transgender involves sexual preference, it has far more to do with identity.
While sex refers to whether one is male or female, gender is constructed by society and falls back on one’s measure of femininity versus masculinity.
We should never reject things simply because we don’t understand them.
I believe what many have forgotten is that discrimination goes beyond age or the color of one’s skin.
“If we are striving for equality, we have to take into consideration all of the groups of people who face discrimination, one of which is transgender people,” stated Chaffey College student Ryan Fisher in an-e-mail.
With the exception of Leelah Alcorn, it is rare to hear much of the tragedies associated with society’s neglect of transgenders.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Alcorn, from Kings Mills, Cincinatti, formerly known as Joshua Alcorn, was a transgender teenager who committed suicide after years of rejection from her own parents.
“The life I would have lived isn’t worth living…because I am transgender,” wrote Alcorn in a suicide note, which was shared on her Tumblr blog.
How can we be satisfied with the state of our society when a teenager chooses not to live because they are ostracized for their gender identity?
I can assure you she is not the first transgender to face discrimination and alienation.
In a study conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, researchers found that 6,456 gender non-conforming and transgender individuals report facing discrimination at home, in the workplace, in school, and in the general public sphere.
We need to exercise transgender acceptance for the same reason we accept variation of age, skin color, and sex: eveyone deserves to be treated equally.
“I believe any person of any sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, mental/physical ability deserves the same place in society as the rest of us,” stated University of Redlands student Marie Muratalla via e-mail.
If we blissfully allow individuals the freedom of speech and religion, there is no excuse for rejecting a person whose sole purpose is to feel comfortable in their own skin.
The acceptance of transgender individuals begins close to home, with parents and caretakers.
Parents and caretakers need to question society’s beliefs about gender norms, and ask themselves who has the right to determine their child’s identity.
I think there is nothing worse than mourning the loss of your child and knowing you may have been able to prevent their suicide.
Fighting transgender discrimination goes far beyond the home, however; changes can be made within institutions as well.
Raul Maldonado is a student assistant at the CSUSB Pride Center who suggests that tackling transgender discrimination within institutions can start with “gender neutral restrooms, and nationwide bans on transgender conversion therapy.”
By recognizing the need for transgender acceptance, I believe we are taking the first step towards achieving equality.
Through familiarizing ourself with the strifes of the transgender community, we can provide a healthy support system.