The Future Isn't Binary | Teen Ink

The Future Isn't Binary

January 1, 2023
By ThomasT BRONZE, Macy, Indiana
ThomasT BRONZE, Macy, Indiana
3 articles 1 photo 0 comments

Transgender people have existed for centuries and will continue to exist for the rest of eternity. Transphobic people have taken transgender people, who are just trying to live, and twisted it into sounding like mental illness. However, over the years, research has proven this to be completely false. Understanding the transgender umbrella, the discrimination trans people go through, and the breakdown of the statistics. Being transgender is way more than feeling like a boy or feeling like a girl because there are many different gender identities and expressions.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, transgender is described as “being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth”(Merriam-Webster. 1990). This proves that sex and gender are two separate things. Sex is defined as “either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male, especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures” (Merriam-Webster, 1920). Examples of sex is male, female, and intersex. Gender identity is totally different. Gender is a social construct; therefore, there are no boundaries to gender. Gender can be many different things, people can identify as the sex you were born with, but sometimes it’s not that simple. Some people feel they are born into the wrong body, which can bring depression and stress. Being trans (transgender) can mean very different things because its such a broad term. Trans has become the umbrella term for many different gender identities. Some people feel a very strong pull to one gender, while others feel that labels like nonbinary and genderfluid fit better. Gender can become very complex because it is a fluid subject. Just like not every man is masculine and not every woman is feminine. Things like masculinity and femininity are played into by society and are all based on an individual's environment.

“Growing up is hard enough, but growing up trans is even worse,” said Lee, a nonbinary student. They recalled not feeling like a boy or feeling like a girl. This followed them for years until they learned what nonbinary was. It took them a while to come out and it took them a while to help people understand their new names and pronouns. However, for them, that was just the beginning of the coming out journey because they still needed to come out to their mom. When they did their mom asked things like “Did I fail as a parent?”. Things like this make being trans so much harder because people blame themselves and make the trans person feel bad about themselves.

Being transgender is very complicated and comes with so many mental and physical barriers one of those barriers being gender dysphoria. The Mayo Clinic describes gender dysphoria as “the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics”(Mayo Clinic. 2019, December). To put it into simple terms, it makes an individual hate the way they look and feel based on their feminine or masculine characteristics. For example, a transgender man may bind his chest because his breasts make him uncomfortable, or a transgender woman might tuck to fit into women's clothing to make them feel more feminine. All of it is about being yourself and the person you want to be. With that being said, if somebody is to ask a trans person what it feels like to be trans, they might describe it as being uncomfortable and feeling like they are unable to be themselves. However, some people under the trans umbrella feel comfortable in their bodies and feel no need to tuck/bind, start hormones, get surgeries,..ect. Speaking of hormones, they play a heavy role in the trans community.  In order to start hormone replacement therapy, you must have at least one referral from a mental health provider. When you start hormone replacement therapy, changes start pretty quickly. Individuals starting estrogen, they might start to notice their breasts growing. For the individuals starting testosterone, they might notice their facial hair growing darker and their voices getting deeper.

Trans people get backlash for just expressing themselves and doing what makes them happy. The discrimination that these individuals go through is disgusting and depressing. A majority of discrimination comes from people that believe that being trans is wrong. These people also like to use outdated terms and slurs against these individuals. For example, the slur “tr*nny” (t-slur)  is an offensive term used against trans people and sometimes even drag entertainers. Trans people use to refer to themselves as a “t-slur”, but the term has been used in the past 10 years to hurt and discriminate against trans individuals. Some trans people may laugh and joke about them being a “t-slur” because they’re using it as a way to reclaim the word. Much like how gay people will reclaim the slur “f*gg*t”. So while these words are said by the people in the community, calling trans people this word is extremely offensive and should be avoided. Another large part of discrimination against the community is misgendering. This misgendering comes from deadnaming, using the wrong pronouns, and/or calling a trans person an “it”. This is very demeaning to the trans community and reinforces their dysphoria.

Another large portion of contributing factor to transphobia is legislation getting passed against them. For example, Indiana House Bill (HB) 1041 is a bill that was passed by both the state house and senate in 2022. This bill bans trans people from playing the gendered sport of their own identity (Davis, M. 2022, January). This invalidates so many trans kids and excludes them from being involved and doing what every other cisgender kid does. Things like this can demean a person so much to the point where they question whether life is worth living or not. Kids already have a high suicide rate, but trans kids are even more at risk of committing suicide. LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to commit suicide in comparison to straight youth (The Trevor Project. January 2022); Therefore, making kids feel invalidated by imposing these bills is just adding to the statistics. 

As stated previously, trans people have been around for centuries, but a lot of the procedures and research are fresh and new. For example, the first person to transition through surgery and hormone therapy wasn’t until the 1940s (Historic England. n.d). Thankfully, since then, a lot has been a lot of scientific progress and research. Approximately 1.4 million people identify as trans worldwide (Loyal, 2020, April). This may make it seem like being trans has become a trend; However, 1.4 million people don’t even account for one percent of humans on Earth. While trans people don’t account for much of the population, they account for more victims of violent crimes than cisgender individuals. According to the The William Institute, “Transgender women and men had higher rates of violent victimization (86.1 and 107.5 per 1,000 people, respectively) than cisgender women and men (23.7 and 19.8 per 1,000 people, respectively)” (Loyal, 2021, March). Hate crimes are very common among LGBT individuals, especially when it comes to trans people. In 2020, 44 trans individuals (mostly black and latinx) were killed as a result of hate crimes (Human Rights Campaign. 2021). This was the record high that the Human Rights Campaign has had since they started tracking hate crimes in 2013.

Hate crimes are defined as “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”(FBI. 2016, May 3). Therefore, this can be anything from assault to murder and arson. The 44 people mentioned before, tragically died as a result of these hate crimes. In 2003, Nireah Johnson, a beautiful, black, 17-year-old, trans woman was a victim of a hate crime alongside her friend Brandie Coleman. The two pulled over to chat with some people they had met at a stoplight in Indianapolis, Indiana. One of the two people, Paul Ward (20) exchanged numbers with her, unknowing of her being trans. Brandie called Curtis Ward, Paul’s brother, asking to hang out with her, the Ward brothers, and Johnson so they could have a nice time together. When that day came, they chatted for a bit and after approximately 40 minutes, Paul Ward became aware of Johnson being trans. Ward and Johnson were attracted to each other; however, when Ward became aware of this he became upset, tied Coleman and Johnson’s hands together with wire, and threw them in the back of his car. After driving them to a park in Indianapolis, Ward shot them both with a Ruger P90 handgun, killing them instantly. Ward dismantled the gun and threw it out the window of his car. He then took them to a remote location and disposed of them and his car by catching it on fire (Robinson, M. 2021, April). This heinous act of evil shows the mindset of homicidal and transphobic individuals and how scary it is to be trans.

In conclusion, being trans isn’t a choice, being trans isn’t a mental illness, and being trans isn’t a death wish. Transphobic people have taken trans individuals and made them sound like evil people; however, the understanding of the trans umbrella, scientific statistics, and discriminatory acts have disproven those claims. Nobody chooses to be discriminated against and nobody wants to be killed for expressing themselves.

The author's comments:

I wrote this paper for a final for my AP Language and Composition course. This is a hot topic in my school because most of my classmates are raised conservatively; Therefore, their parent's beliefs are cast onto them. The person beside me also wrote about trans people, but they reported on the opposing side. More specifically, why trans people are mentally ill and shouldn't be allowed to play sports with people with correlating identities. 

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