Over the past couple of weeks, the transgender argument has hit a new low. Whether it is a step back in Western countries or an ongoing battle in the Middle East region, there seems to be a renewed trend of intolerance and irrational fear, which tragically ends up with the death of too many defenceless people.
Let’s look at the US first. The Obama administration had issued a guideline specifically to ensure equality in schools for transgender teens. The idea was to give them access to the bathroom of the gender they identified with and not the one they were born with. The new Trump administration, which seems committed to do exactly the opposite on every matter, is of course unwilling to carry on with this measure. Why is that? Is it really because it should be a “state’s rights issue” as White House spokesman Sean Spicer affirmed? Is it because it is confusing for the kids, as the current president declared? Or is it because they are narrow-minded, selfish and indifferent to the condition of others?
Who is it confusing for? Is this really about safety for all the teenagers in school? Everything indicates that safety is something transgender teens do not get. They are bullied, they are judged and they are alienated. Everything indicates that they are the one dealing with confusion because they know who they are but uninformed people — not to say ignorant and insensitive — keep telling them who they should be. Transgender teens are more vulnerable and no one could start to guess what they are going through. Sportscaster Dale Hansen voiced his frustration again recently when a pointless debate fired after a transgender guy won a girls wrestling championship since he was refused to play in the boys team. Hansen supported the kid, asserting that he himself did not understand. However, he understands that this does not give him the right to take his freedom and his success away. But what can we do when even the State’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who was against the repeal, chooses to bow to pressure from her peers rather than fight for the students she is supposed to be representing?
And it does not stop at school gates. In the U.S., hate crimes toward transgender individuals are not decreasing. It is alarming to observe that over the past couple of years, more than 50 people were killed because of their gender identity. So far this year, at least half a dozen people have already lost their lives because of who they wanted to be, who they were. So if, according to Sean Spicer, this is not a federal concern, what is? Getting food on the table? Making money? Insuring work for Americans only? What about liberty, the pursuit of happiness, peace and safety for all? Not enough states have a clear definition of hate crimes against transgender individuals and not enough states care. So who is it confusing for? Is it confusing for the people who should be minding their own business or is it confusing for kids who are afraid to live?
Fortunately, it is not all black and white. 53 companies have signed the amicus brief, a document about non-discriminating policies. And of course they would. Those companies know that skills and talent and determination and hard work has nothing to do with genitals, the same way a man and a woman are — or should be — equals. Transgender individuals are allowed the same opportunities and chances as anyone else. Their performance does not depend on who they were at birth and who they are afterwards but what they do to become successful. Those companies know that diversity is important for business. Showing support and offering a safe space for their employees is crucial for their reputation. But beyond the self-interest aspect of their strategy, the fact that they fight for an all-together course of action does make a difference. Because what will the United States become without the support of those billion-worth companies? Only the future will tell. At least, we know that some transgender teens may get the bright future they deserve.
Nevertheless, there is still more trouble to come for the LGBTQ+ community worldwide. In Saudi Arabia, a raid against transgender individuals made two victims, who were tortured to death. Those who were able to pay their way out are safe — for now — but more than 20 people are still incarcerated, waiting for their judgment — or punishment. Previously, the United Nations faced a major defiance and rejection in certain Middle East countries when suggesting that all nations give the same rights to gay and transgender individuals.
Please do not hesitate to consult the Goodreads book list for trans teens to read more about the subject. We will be reviewing some of them soon.