This past June there was a court ruling in favor of a 6-year-old transgender child in Colorado Springs. School officials were prohibiting the child from using the girl’s restroom at school, advising her to use the one in the teacher’s lounge instead. The child’s family filed an official complaint, claiming blatant discrimination and their lawyers filed suit. More about the story can be read here.
This is certainly an amazing feat in the fight for transgender equality. It is still very difficult for the public to collectively recognize and tolerate this community. Often transgender people are looked at like circus freaks. Changing, sometimes with surgery, their bodies to represent the gender they identify with. But they are simply discovering the ways to find happiness with oneself, are they not?
I think society still cannot empathize with the emotional turmoil transgender individuals experience. Whether they are transitioning from male to female or from female to male, it is all part of that individual’s journey to feel whole. Most of us don’t know what it’s like to be born in the “wrong body,” to feel physically unwhole. So then how can we judge, having never looked down at our own genitals and felt confused?
You might say this court ruling is ridiculous. How can we be sure every person who takes advantage of this is truly transgender? What’s to prevent peeping toms from pretending to be transgender just to sneak peaks in the ladies’ room?
These types of questions spring from fear. And we all know what fear can do to you. It blinds you, it corrupts your senses. We can’t be sure of anything and we can’t be sure of everything. I can’t be sure that transgender is actually a straight man any more than I can be sure the woman next to me isn’t a serial killer. Can’t we all be accountable for our own fears and not regulate an entire country off one person’s negative paranoia? Can we not punish citizens based on one group’s shortsightedness?
Take the little girl, Coy Mathis, for example. She was originally diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, a condition which described an individual’s conflict between their physical gender and their mental gender. Mathis was born a boy but within the first couple years of her life identified as a girl. She wears dresses and plays with dolls. Doesn’t sound like any disorder to me!
Fortunately, December 2012, the American Psychiatric Association dropped Gender Identity Disorder from their manual. This move distinguishes identifying with the opposite gender as a difference not a disorder. The APA, however, does recognize the mental discrepancy of gender in some patients as Gender Dysphoria. It just goes to show you how the evolution of our species will never cease to transform the basis of how we think of ourselves.
It is important to remember how the little things we do as a society add up to something big. Someday, this little girl won’t have to worry about how she is perceived in the world. Little by little, we have been opening our minds to all types of people. As long as we put ourselves in someone else’s transgender shoe, we’ll learn compassion when it comes to gender identity.