Sunday, November 23, 2008

"T" is for "Transgender"

We at the Verbosery have had a fascination with transgendered individuals ever since we were a wee girl, watching the little tv in the bedroom of the first house. PBS ran a special about sex changes, and then it was featured on the Donahue show.

I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a boy and then start growing boobies and getting a period. Or to be a girl with a penis and to have to go through all of the changes as your body becomes a man's.

More so, I cannot begin to fathom the journey that these individuals must take to remake their bodies to reflect their identity. Even those who are able to take the journey will often remain something “other” than a “real” woman or a “real” man. While medical technology has come so far, it is still a long way from recreating certain physical features in perfect working order. The journey is also an expensive one. Ongoing psychotherapy, weekly hormone injections and multiple surgeries, virtually none of which will be covered by insurance.

In the end, there is often, physically, only a “reasonable facsimile” of the gender one has been since birth, regardless of the determination on a birth certificate.

The medical aspect, as huge as that is, is only a small portion of the difficult journey for the transgendered. Coming out to family, friends, employers often costs them dearly. In most states, it is not against the law to fire a person for being transgendered. Family and friends are often not accepting or understanding of a transgendered individual. It is not uncommon for the transgendered individual to have to walk away from life as they've known it in order to begin their journey.

Imagine having your family, friends, people who have loved and cared about you all your life turn their back on you because you tell them that the life you've been living is a lie to who you are.

Imagine being beaten, raped, murdered because you have refused to live your life as the wrong gender. Imagine the police, courts, media treating you as though it is somehow your fault that these things have happened to you. That, somehow, because you are changing your outside to, finally, match your inside, you are the one instigating the hatred and violence against yourself.

Even when the road is relatively easy, friends and family are open-minded, loving and accepting, there are still obstacles. Because the journey to the corrected body can take many years, a transgendered person living as their correct gender can still run into a multitude of problems.

The job offer that comes with a required medical evaluation.

Being legally “Jane” while living (and looking like) “John”.

Having to produce identification that looks like you stole it from your brother.

God help you if you should get caught breaking the law.


People can be very close minded, judgmental and hateful.

Transgendered people have been raped, beaten, murdered, brutally violated and all because of what was or was not in their pants. Because some people can't see far enough beyond their own judgment and hatefulness to understand that, really, it's ok that some people are different. That humans aren't all cookie-cutter versions of each other and that diversity is what makes our world such a wonderful, colorful, beautiful place to live.

I, for one, love the “T” aspect of our LGBTQ community. I have so much respect, admiration and love for the transgendered, and I'm very thankful for the ones that have graced my life.

I hope that, as the gay rights movement moves forward, we do not forget our transgendered brethren, and that we remember that we're fighting for their rights, too.

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