Equality is slow to happen because laws are slow to change and people cannot let go.
So many controversial issues face citizens in the media today, many of which are covered in this blog. Issues surmount and build–issues about birth control, women’s rights, improving situations for minorities living on American soil and the uphill trudge by members of the gay rights movement.
Sometimes I become discouraged by it all. Apathy is ever present and it is easy to become bogged down with the weights of the world. I feel my own cynicism pervade my psyche. I see the inherent problems in society and it is simply based in intolerance. It is encouraged in this society to fear what we don’t understand, to see ourselves as separate from other people – to “other” them.
It is encouraged to make light of other people’s serious circumstances, inabilities or discomfort – even to laugh at other people. Whether we realize it or not, we see stereotypes in the media and we perpetuate what we see in daily life. Not a single person can rise above this modern day phenomenon though many have tried through meditation or other pursuits.
What is it that makes it impossible to see that there are other ways to live than our own? Why can’t we leave it at that simple truth of life and the human condition?
An example of this is the transgender movement, a movement which has as much historical occurrence as the gay movement. Transgendered individuals can feel a lack of acceptance even within the LGBT community. I was once told by a trans University of Idaho student (whom I will not name without permission here,) that this is because some members of the gay community see transgendered individuals as riding the coattails of the gay movement, so to speak, although the two are completely different. A transgender may identify as male or female or may prefer not to ascribe to societal binary definitions of gender. A trans may identify as homosexual, heterosexual or asexual.
This is a relevant topic right now because Jenna Talackova was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada pageant because she was not a “naturally-born female.” She was accused of being dishonest in her application. Talackova was born as a genetic male but at 14 she underwent hormone therapy and eventually had sexual re-assignment surgery.
Sometimes my head just aches with the question – why is misunderstanding so pervasive in society?
The answer: Sometimes we lack education or limit understanding due to beliefs and values. Sometimes we are afraid to ask questions so we shut down.
We should seek to know as much as we can about life, we should develop and perpetuate understanding. Every person existing deserves the right to do so as they wish, as much as you or I. Sometimes we struggle to understand the systems of oppression that affect life for women, minorities and the LGBT community. Sometimes we struggle to understand how we could have mental and biological differences from someone else that seem so vast. We are human beings and we differ – plain and simple.
It is hard to imagine the experience of being unable to sleep at night as a young adult, trying to think of a way to express to your parents that you have to dress, talk, think and act like a girl but you are certain beyond a shred of doubt that you are a boy.
Care2.com advocates parental support for parents of transgendered kids through a video entitled ‘It Gets Better.’ The video illustrates how parents can come to terms with and support their child through the process to truly be their best selves.
Tolerance, love, understanding and support are the answer. Only when we enact these principles can we engage in relationships with those who are different from us – a process that is crucial to our development as human beings. You may never be able to understand the perspective of a transgendered person until you talk to them and find the courage to ask questions. I promise they will welcome questions and will be delighted that you would ask.
If beliefs and values are holding you back from learning about other people, I encourage you to recognize that all historical leaders of the world’s great religions use tolerance as a cornerstone of rhetoric.
I have often heard people say things about the LGBT community such as: “Well, that’s fine for them, as long as they don’t press their lifestyle on me.”
It is important to recognize the ignorance, fear and intolerance behind statements such as these. Heterosexuals are never accused of being attracted to every member of the opposite sex but homosexuals are often accused of being attracted to every member of the same sex. The idea is ludicrous and makes no logical sense.
What I am trying to say is: Guess what? LGBT’s don’t care what sexuality you choose, what does this have to do with them? Maybe people should see the moral in this course of action.
There is a lot of misunderstanding out there about the transgendered community. It is just as important that these individuals have rights and protections as those in the LGB community. In order to guarantee that all individuals are protected under our government, misunderstanding must be replaced with tolerance, dialogue and education.
For more information about transgenderism, visit the American Psychology Association’s website. Common questions are answered here.