Fighting for transgender rights

_Jessica Colwick_, _Herald Contributor_

The LGBT community has come leaps and bounds in the past couple years. However, even with all of this progress, the community still has a long way to go before the fight is over.

 

The transgender community is becoming more and more accepted as time goes on, but they still face a multitude of struggles every day of their lives. Even when people are trying to be supportive, there are still a number of faux pas accidentally committed when addressing the transgender community. For example, there have been a number of interviews with famous transgender individuals where the interviewer thinks it is okay to ask about the interviewee’s genitalia. Asking anyone, regardless of their gender identity, about their genitalia is highly inappropriate and frankly no one’s business except their own. Unfortunately, some people think that if you’re trans then it’s okay to question you about personal matters.

More concerning, however, is that inappropriate questions are the least of the transgender community’s worries. They face larger and more dangerous problems daily. While I cannot speak to what it is like to be transgender, I can recognize that the way the transgender community has continually been discriminated against is unjust and inhumane. Being transgender is not a lifestyle or a choice, but the way someone was born. To punish and degrade people for things out of their control, such as gender identity, is horrendous. According to a National Transgender Discrimination Survey of 2011, the degradation and humiliation faced by trans individuals has driven 41 percent of the community to attempt suicide. Due to their gender identity, transgender people not only face discrimination in many aspects of their lives, but also sexual and physical violence that all too often leads to their death.

 

Perhaps what is the most disturbing out of all of this is that this discrimination and violence is not limited to transgender adults. According to MSNBC, those who expressed a transgender or gender non-conformity identity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment, physical assault, and sexual violence. The hardest thing that a child should have to face while at school is getting an A on an upcoming test, and not worrying about whether they will be harassed or harmed because of their identity. These are formative years that will affect children for the rest of their lives when their only responsibility during this time should be to get an education. However, the ability to receive this education is hindered by the overwhelming obstacles they must face because of their identity.

 

I’ve addressed a lot of problems in this article but have not yet offered any solutions. In my opinion, the only way to fix these problems is through changes in attitude, education, and perhaps most importantly, policy. With highly influential political figures like our current president contributing to discrimination through policies like the proposed military ban on transgender individuals, it is hard to convince people that they should think differently. When the law itself is saying that this discrimination is okay, where do we turn? We need to teach and expose our youth to as many different people and identities as possible so that they will grow up into accepting, caring adults. In addition, we need to rally and vote for those who recognize that no one should be discriminated against because of their identity. With this shift in thinking and action, we will hopefully one day get to live in a world where equality is not strived for, but is already a way of life for everyone.