The Subtle Legalized Genocide of the Transgender Community
NOTE: This piece was originally submitted as an Op-Ed to the New York Times, but was passed over for publication. Presumably for being too critical of the current administration’s position on LGBTQ rights.
For matters regarding the Transgender community, most media outlets seem to be driven by the very tragedy of being Transgender. This has become a cyclical negative feedback loop regarding the narrative of our lives, and it is only being reinforced by the current U.S. Presidential administration.
As long as I have been aware of gender non-conforming individuals, I have always felt they were outsiders. But in the past two decades they stopped living in the shadows, and become emboldened to share their stories. To this end there are hundreds of thousands of others who have suffered with their own gender incongruity who have now found the strength to stop hiding and follow the path that allows them to live as the individual they’ve always felt they should have been.
Visibility has breathed life into a community which was once deemed small and inconsequential only to reveal that the numbers (while still small) are anything but inconsequential — an estimated 1.4 million Americans identify as Transgender. The faces of those who have chosen to draw a line in the sand are the same ones who inspired me to do the same. I cannot stress enough how the bravery of these individuals have shaped my whole existence, and I will not depreciate their strength, or my own, for the sake of maintaining the comfort level of those who refuse to treat us as equals.
What most people will never bother to research is that gender nonconformity has existed across dozens of cultures; we are the silenced voices that have proclaimed our truth for millennia. From Biblical Eunuchs, to Middle Eastern Hijra, to Samoa’s Fa’afahine, the Mahu of Hawaii, and the Two-Spirit Native Americans who held dominion over these lands long before the destructive and oppressive influences of colonists. Today, we respectfully identify as Transgender, but we are the ancestors of these and so many more gender variant progenitors.
We have come out of our shadows; giving up subjugating concepts such as going “stealth” or “passing.” We have had to push for our own acceptance in the wake of a society that seems to disregard how heinous it is to force another human being to fit into a predetermined concept of what makes a person a person. We are reduced to the sum of our physical characteristics, and stripped of that which gives our soul a reason to persist; our core identity.
The current administration is actively engaged in this denigration, and has been nothing short of transparent about their attempts to eradicate anyone who does not adhere to a binary. At the very core of this is religiously mandated subjugation. For an administration that purports to be promoting “Christian” values (in spite of the separation of church and state), I am having trouble seeing anything Christian about the legislating of indirect genocide. This hardly seems like the actions of the Christ I know who promoted non-judgement, doing unto others, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
First, let’s acknowledge the misinformation that’s been fed into the public narrative; the “Transgender people are Mentally Ill” trope is by far the most insidious bit of fiction. Transgender isn’t listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness), however Gender Dysphoria is. This is an important distinction, and most people do not bother to register this distinction because it doesn’t mesh with their internal monolog. Gender Dysphoria is the distress one feels when one does not relate to the gender they were assigned at birth. This is different from being Transgender because not everyone who is Transgender will experience gender dysphoria. Moreover, attempts to use Gender Dysphoria’s inclusion in the DSM as a reason to dehumanize Transgender individuals highlights the very bigoted nature of the aggression; otherwise everyone suffering with a disorder listed in the DSM would be subject to equal scrutiny.
Having gender dysphoria listed in the DSM allows professionals to diagnose patients and work a treatment path that helps them find comfort with themselves. The course of treatment can extend from simple counseling all the way to surgical transition. Yet when one outside of this community attempts to think about what this means, they always conclude that the individual will seek surgery. This highlights the very narrow scope of how the Transgender community is viewed. Society doesn’t seek actual education about a topic that they only know based upon stereotypes; this makes it easier for them to engage in dehumanizing behaviour such as legislative language specifically formulated to force us back into our closets or push us to end our lives.
The level is suicidal tendency within the community is approximately 41%. This often lauded statistic is typically spun in a fashion that states that the rate doesn’t change with transition. This is simply untrue. If transition had no positive impact on the individuals suicidality, then the medical establishment would be willfully incurring a massive liability with it’s unflinching support. The reality is that individuals who have supportive families and friends will have better outcomes with their transitions. Some studies have even found that the suicidality of trans youth will drop to nearly that of their cisgender counter-parts. Basically, when Trans people are treated with dignity, they thrive; when they aren’t, they suffer or self-destruct. The Christian thing to do would be to support those individuals instead of vying for their complete undoing.
Now we have an administration stating that it’s acceptable for a physician to refuse treatment to a Transgender individual based upon their religious beliefs. If this doesn’t raise your eyebrow, it should. In instances where parents were negligent in administering medical care to their children based upon their religious beliefs, those parents have been subject to charges stemming from the death of their child. It would appear that in the eyes of this administration that the lives of Transgender individuals are so devalued that, in kind, an ER doctor could let them die and suffer no legal ramifications for doing so.
Unless a Transgender person happens to live in one of the few states that have opted to provide protections against discrimination, it’s entirely possible that those individuals will face difficulty finding or keeping employment or housing. With the removal of language relating to being Transgender and Gender Identity from the Office of Personnel Management, the dissolution of rights for Transgender prisoners in Federal facilities, the ban on Transgender soldiers, and finally the removal of protections in healthcare and homeless shelters; our “Christian” leaders have opted to take a subtle path towards the eradication of this entire community — legalized genocide.
The goal is for these beautiful and brave souls to self-destruct. They will be unable to receive proper healthcare, succumb to addictions, have even greater levels of homelessness, resort to survival sex; all of which can have intersectional paths connected with increased levels of incarceration. In most instances, a transgender prisoner will be jailed in a manner that’s incongruent with their established gender identity, this will result in increases in sexual assaults and physical abuse at the hands of authorities, guards, and inmates; ultimately pushing the individual further toward suicidality.
This of course will help feed the lauded narrative that we are ‘doomed to fail.’ But those pushing that narrative will never take stock in the fact that our failures have been part and parcel of their continued lack of understanding and abject subhuman treatment of us. It’s also woefully ironic that this is acceptable treatment from the same people who are now engaged creating the most egregious rules relating to abortion. It’s seemingly abhorrent to them to terminate a pregnancy, but once the child is born and identifies as Transgender (or anywhere on LGBTQ spectrum), it’s completely acceptable to drive that person to ending their own life. Late life abortion is apparently acceptable to anyone who doesn’t fit into a very rigid belief scheme.
Many apparently have a very ignorant view of this community, and this comes from a desire to remain uneducated. Boiling down humanity’s reason for being as merely for the propagation of the species is a rather dimwitted view to take when the population of the planet expanded by 6 billion people in just the past 120 years. Humans are more than their sum of their sex organs, and our legacy is not one consisting of a bloodline. If anything, the statistic I just cited should drive home that fact; we’re simply not running out of people. Our legacy is in how we treat one another; our love, and our advancement as a species.
Do we express rampant hatred and negativity that’s derived from ignorance and fear? Or do we respectfully learn about those we’ve been conditioned to perceive as evil, and build bridges to their humanity so that we can validate our own? There are a lot of intelligent, talented, and amazing people in this community, and their gifts should not be denied because of baseless prejudices.
Believe me when I tell you this, no one wants to be Transgender; society, and this administration, have done plenty to guarantee that. We transition because we must. For that, you are free to hate us. But the respectful thing to do is to stop pretending that you are acting “Christ-like;” hate was never on that man’s plate, and deep down you know it shouldn’t be on yours.