You may have noticed that we are seeing more and more mentions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (lgbt) in the headlines lately. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act passing in the U.S. Senate, marriage equality passing in Illinois and Hawaii, California’s bill protecting transgender students are all issues that have made their way into mainstream media.
But what you may not have heard of were the stories of schools barring children from being their authentic selves. Such as the story of Jeydon Loredo, a transgender young man that wanted to wear a tux for his official school portrait. School administrators denied the young man because it violated “community standards”. Thankfully this story has a happy ending. The school board ended up allowing Jeydon to wear his tux for his school photo.
You may have missed an outspoken religious leader in this country that compared being transgender to a castrated horse.
These examples are just the tip of an ever-growing iceberg. What the media and most of the general public don’t have a chance to see is the day-to-day ignorance displayed toward the trans community. It is a constant challenge for many transgender individuals to face prejudice with strength and courage to keep going. What the cis-community (non-transgender) doesn’t see is the continual prejudice and discrimination that plays out in our schools, our workplaces and even in our places of worship.
All too often, these negative experiences are due to one thing – lack of communication stemming from the unwillingness or fear to listen.
There are those of us in the trenches in our respective communities that are continually working and try to bridge the gap and to help further the understanding of what it means to be transgender. As I am continually reminded, the work is often fraught with disappointment after disappointment.
From a person who originally wanted to go stealth after my transition to now being a person willing to speak up has not always been the easiest. As much positive feedback and support I get, the negative still weighs heavy on me.
But when we put ourselves out there, that is when we can make real change. By being willing to face those with questions, to face those with opposing views will we ever have a chance to make a difference.
Those of us that are willing to step forward and be a voice for our community can only do so much. Those individuals that oppose us, those that have questions, those that have a differing view must be willing set aside their fear and ignorance and to sit down face to face if understanding is ever going to be accomplished. If people have questions, then they need to be asked.
I often wonder why people are so afraid of change. I constantly question the attitudes of those that refuse to have a meaningful discussion. Are people that close-minded? Are people so captivate by fear by what they don’t understand that they are paralyzed?
I all too often wonder why I even bother trying to educate, trying to effect change, even on a small scale. Do I really have the strength to keep going? I was in one of those times just this past week when I was reminded of the definition of courage. It is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger or pain. I received an email from a reader that reminded me why I continue to write and speak out.
This young person felt so alone, no support in her home or in her church. she was looking for that one person to give her some hope. She turned to me. That is why I will continue the challenge of facing prejudice head on, educating those willing to learn and continuing what God has set out for me to do.
We can not sit back and let the closed minded of this world continue to be the voice that is heard. It is up to us to make this world a better place for those coming after us. We must be the ones lifting our voices, facing the challenge laid out before us with strength and courage.
I would love to hear your answer to the following question - When will the day come when we as a community, both cis and trans, can live, work, worship and enjoy life as who we are with out the shadow of prejudice and discrimination hanging over our heads?
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