I didn’t know anything about the trans community a decade or so ago, and honestly I felt no concern whatsoever over trans people or their rights because I didn’t think it had anything to do with me, my perception was that I couldn’t remotely relate to anything they were experiencing. All of that changed when I met two trans youths and actually had an open conversation with them. They helped me understand what they had gone through and what they were still going through.
There are people I respect and agree with on many social and political issues, but who are completely wrong about trans rights because they take absolutely no opportunity to have an open and honest conversation with someone who actually is transgender, which makes it so incredibly hard to continue to feel any degree of respect for them. I hold out the hope that in time and with empathy they can and will reach out to someone who is transgender for a conversation and undergo a change in perspective, just as I did.
If someone is unwilling to accept that this is about human dignity and not just a political issue, then they’re woefully misguided. It is very frustrating to encounter so many people who do not attempt to understand the trans community and instead choose the path of belittling and harassment. They do not understand them and so they have fear and that fear causes them to have awful opinions and make hurtful decisions. They stop seeing them as human and see them as objects to ridicule, they forego all opportunities to practice empathy. Sometimes this outward hatred is actually a product of their own internal self-hatred.
As someone who has long been involved in behavioral health, it is overwhelming to know how many trans youth are still struggling right now with a society that not only invalidates their identity, but that invalidates their very right to have the identity they know themselves to be. While I do not know what it’s like to feel as though I’ve been born into the wrong body, I absolutely know what it’s like to battle with myself while in the midst of a society that does not accept some aspect of who I am. This is a shared struggle.
The silencing of the trans community and the denial of access to mental and physical health care is outrageous and appalling to me. One does not have to be trans to find these things disturbing, for human decency and the earnest desire to understand another person is all that is required. All those years ago those two trans youths helped me to see that we were not so different, my conversations with them helped me see our shared humanity and in-so-doing, our shared struggle.
The reality is that right now as I write this there are trans youth reading through social media posts and comment threads filled with hateful and dehumanizing language, with discrimination and harassment. Young people who are already facing an immense internal battle with self-acceptance, who are statistically very likely already experiencing suicidal thoughts and behavior.
They suffer ever the more by being exposed, often blatantly and forcefully, to people with a lack of dignity and integrity, a lack of self-control and self-awareness, who openly and aggressively express their cruelty, heartlessness, and chosen ignorance without any regard for the consequences of their words and actions on these struggling, traumatized, impressionable, and innocent youth.
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