Dictionary.com refers to Transgender people as: a person appearing or attempting to be a member of the opposite sex, as a transsexual or habitual cross-dresser. While the definition is very broad, its meaning is very fascinating. I won't pretend to understand the Transgender or their struggle to be socially accepted. But after watching Barbara Walters 20/20 amazing special on the topic this past weekend, I have to admit that I received a fast tracks course on an issue that surprisingly amazed and intrigued me.
In this powerful and pioneering television special, Barbara spoke to a series of parents who have taken on the daunting task of raising transgender youth in today's rigid, and over-classifying society. In one segment I got the opportunity to hear Scott and Renee Jennings encouraging story - as they try to cope and understand one of the most hush-hush issues of our time—Gender Identity Disorder. As offensive as the term may be to some, that is how transgender people are classified in the medical profession.
Their youngest child- "Jazz" Jennings (pictured above) - is a booming bundle of joy whose parents adore her with all of their heart. (I will admit that little Jazz even melted my own heart.) Since the moment Jazz was born, particularly the moment she could speak, she was quite vocal in her opposition of being called a boy. Thinking it was just a faze Renee and Scott attempted to ignore it, but as Jazz got older her "disorder" became more and more prevalent. It was at that moment that Jazz's parents made the difficult decision to allow the youngest member of their family to be the person she felt she was—a girl.
While their story was very compelling, it forced me to face an undeniable revelation. Why does it seem that the gay community doesn't acknowledge or include Trangender men and women into their social circles? Has everyone become so self involved with their own sexual identity issues that they've alienated an entire sub-culture of people? It's abundantly clear that Transgender people experience more hate and ridicule then any other group could ever imagine.
If you think that I am wrong about my assessment then ask yourself these two questions:
1. Do I have any Transgender friends?
If your answer was honest then I am sure that you will come to find that you may have some horizontal hatred or ignorance to an entire sub-culture that is apart of the community.
While many people outside of the Gay Community view gay men and women as sexual deviants, Trangender people have a much more profound issue. They have to somehow navigate their own biological identify in a culture that barely accepts homosexuality, let alone anything else that isn't considered "normal". And some studies are showing that transgender men and women are 4 times more likely to commit suicide, catch HIV and start using drugs more then any other demographic.
While the gay "struggle" is a serious issue that needs to be handled with vigor and great stride. It's nothing compared to the struggles of transgender men and women. It is time for us all to be more inclusive and a lot more open minded.
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