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Transgender acceptance

Sun 3 May 2015 In: Our Communities View at Wayback View at NDHA

The unthinkable is happening; being transgender is slowly becoming more recognised by society. Through the mediums of television, YouTube and the internet, reports about transgender people have made us more exposed. This process, whether considered as entertainment or educational, presents the transgender experience in a way never before seen. The sensationalism factor once so very dominant in talk shows and documentaries is gradually diminishing. Dedicated videos and programs on transgender people’s lives create a more informed cisgender society. Largely due to social media; transgender people can now take the opportunity to utilise change in a positive way. That is if they can get over the many self-imposed issues created by something that has nothing to do with race and culture, and everything to do with the fact that we all face this World first and foremost because we are transgender. And that is the message society must come to terms with. cisgender people in the real World could be forgiven for thinking transgender issues are confusing! They are told transgender youth are consistently finding life difficult to cope with when the reality is more extensive and complicated. Sure transgender youth are seriously at risk of suicide, yet society still remains disconnected on the subject; whereas in fact the suicide issue relates to everyone who is transgender, and not just limited to the young. Cisgender people are expected to view the transgender community with compassion without fully understanding the issue; and often we fail to get it right ourselves when as a community we appear fragmented. Describing transgender as an umbrella term continues the confusion, when it includes anyone whose gender identity differs from the so called norm. Being transgender then takes on an impossible position, for no matter what, you will be misunderstood. But you would think that in today’s world in 2015, society would have learned about us; truth is it is only just starting! Articles about children as young as two years telling their parents they feel in the wrong body, adds to the transgender confusion for parents who have no idea what to do, and an uninformed society that can only stand by and question parental decisions with a complete lack of understanding. The concept of a wrong body is an attempt to educate so called normal people about the difference between seeing and knowing. The way cisgender people see themselves has never been in question, they know who they are; however a transgender person sees the person in the mirror differently from what their mind knows; a complete opposite! And if you are not normal then “look out”! The reality for transgender people is about being accepted; sadly acceptance is not a preferred option for many cisgender people, it is seen all too often lacking at parental and family level, government, the media and much of society. And the most non acceptance of all is the way certain religions become involved and get it so wrong. But is that only an issue for the young? Actually I believe the young are the most accepting of society. In the background of transgender society is a community who do not and cannot, because of personal circumstances allow themselves the luxury of being who they are; and nothing is being done about it. Meanwhile, far too regularly the transgender community diminishes every day by suicide and murder, and no one attempts to stop it. Is it that a cisgender society is not educated enough, can they not understand the pain caused when they do nothing, when they stand by and let the bully have their way? Is it surprising many transgender still hideaway living in the wrong gender; existing in the hope that one day society will accept them for who they are. Creating a society that looks past the binary of only two genders, male and female “must happen”! Research shows the average age a male who believes he should be female and tells society, is 42 years. In this case the term 'male' is one used descriptively by a cisgender society that has no concept of the idea that his mind was never anything but female. Cisgender society struggles with the concept of gender as it creates who a person is from the image they see. Hence the difficulty of accepting something that on first impression is beyond understanding; mostly we believe what we see. Because society knows no different, changing the outward appearance of one’s gender form from a male concept to that of a female, or vice versa, the term transition is used, and at least this is generally acknowledged. But can society go one step further and recognise that due to its lack of acceptance there will be many transgender people who will have lived half of their lives in societal enforced secrecy; for no other reason than cisgender people could not understand them! I wonder if all the cisgender folk are happy about that! It is a categorical fact that today transgender people are still the most marginalised people in the world, and only complete acceptance by society will change that. I firmly believe no one would ever wish to be transgender, I was told before my own transition, as many have before me. You will lose your family, your friends, your home, your job and just possibly your life, and it gets worse when religious people tell me I am an abomination to God and I will go to hell. Despite all that, there are few choices, sure you may escape some, gain others but is up to you to stand up and say! “This is who I am” Accept me as any other human whose right is “Love”! - Diane Sparkes is a retired teacher and trans advocate welcomes community submissions. Email them to Diane Sparkes - 3rd May 2015    

Credit: Diane Sparkes

First published: Sunday, 3rd May 2015 - 9:16am

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