You do not choose the body you are born in, however, you can decide who you want to be once you learn who you are. Transgender individuals go through a process in which their gender identity or gender expression does not match their biologically assigned sex. Some transgender individuals go through the process of transitioning from one sex to another, and those individuals are usually called transsexuals. Occasionally, they are some folks who identified themselves as genderqueer, and even though not everyone understands the difference between these terms, we should always respect and use the term preferred by the individual.
The process of transforming into a transgender is not easy, it takes a lot of strength and time trying to achieve the goal of becoming the person you believe you want to be. These individuals are born in “the wrong body”, so trying to achieve the body and sexuality that they feel is more comfortable in takes time and dedication. It’s not about wearing a wig, female clothing, high heels or cutting your hair and dressing like a man, it’s becoming the person who they believe they were born to be. Many transgender people visit their doctor and start their transitioning by taking hormones to change their bodies, either to grow hair or to stop growing it. Other transgender would go through surgeries to add implants in their body or others to take off their breast. However, people need to understand that a transgender person doesn’t have to go through all these procedures to be transgender, but they are still considered transgender even if they did not take any of those medical procedures. (See: “The Transgender Community by the Numbers”)
2016 has been the year of the so-called Bathroom bills – correctly known as the Transgender Public Accommodation Bill that were introduced in several states in the United States of America. North Carolina has passed an antitrans bill in which a transsexual individual is prohibited of using a restroom that doesn’t match their biological sex, when these restrooms are located in a government building. South Dakota and Tennessee were trying to pass one of these bills as well but one of them was vetoed and the other one was withdrawn. However, the city of Oxford, Alabama has passed one of the most disgusting and antitransgender legislation to date, in which they prohibit transsexual individuals from using any public restrooms – including those restrooms in local businesses that match their gender identity. Those who do not follow the law will be fined up to $500 and up to six months in jail. And this is how America shows to be the land of the free.
For the past four years attending Montclair State University has given me the pleasure of meeting tons of different people and some of them of which were transsexual individuals. Let me tell you that those individuals are amazing and full of life, and they will be there for you to help you with anything they can. I would never see any of them causing harm to others and trying to take advantage of their “rights”. These individuals stand for what is right and they fight for what is wrong; and they never give up. Some of them have the most amazing stories to tell about their transition and the support of their families, while others have sad stories to tell and less support from those who they love the most. For some of them it was easier than others, some of them had to face bigger challenges than others, but all of them are equally united by their faith, passion and hard work for change. So when people say that they feel “unsafe” when a transgender male/female is in the “wrong” bathroom, I don’t know what they mean.
People need to understand that this transgender public accommodation bill only allows a person who identifies themself as a female to use a female restroom and to those who identified as a male to use a male restroom. By people saying that this law opens the door for predators, perverts and pedophiles to take advantage and commit crimes, is just stupid and doesn’t make any sense. First of all, sexual assault, harassment and any other type of illegal events that can be done in a public restroom is still against the law; nothing has changed. Second, if you are fearing that your child might be sexually abused by one of these “predators”; 90% of sexual assault in children is done by people they know or are close to, and this abuse hardly occurs in a public restroom. Lastly, transgender individuals should not be denied their right to access the restroom of their choice just because they weren’t biologically born that gender.
In 2013, 72% of antiLGBTQ homicide victims were transgender women. The transgender community faces a high level of discrimination from their families, community and society in general. According to some of my closest friends, some of them do not feel safe to walk in the streets by themselves because they are afraid of what could happen to them. 19% of transgender individuals have experienced violence or abuse from a family member. (See: “Five Shocking Facts about Transgender Suicide & Violence that you Need to Know”) 18 states out of 50 have clear laws protecting transgender individuals; this means that in 32 states they can still be fired or denied employment for their gender identity. 26% of transgender individuals in America have lost their job due to their gender identity. Poverty is a massive problem in the trans community; they are four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000. Also, transgender survivors are 1.7 times more likely to be the victim of sexual assault than cisgender survivors. (See: “Taking it on the Chin: New Fast Facts about Violence Against Transgender People”)
There is no way that the transgender community could cause any harm to our society, when our society has harmed them so deeply. It’s ignorant to think that they would be the cause of sexual assault in public restrooms, when anyone could walk freely into a restroom and attack their victims. All the trans community want is the right to be themselves, to be free to express their gender identity and to enjoy their human rights. It is okay if you do not understand or support the transgender community, what is not okay is our society denying the opportunity for this community to be free. I promise you, there is no risk of sharing a public bathroom with a transgender individual, and remember sometimes you could be more at risk in your own bathroom. Let’s break the stereotypes and let the transgender community be able to express their gender identity and be able to embrace who they were born to be.
By, Mateo Diaz