I’m not sure the average person really understands what transgender means, or what it means to the person struggling to live a normal life in a society that insists people must conform to the view they have of what that means, regardless of where they got that view.
A fairly straightforward — although far from complete — definition of transgender, is that of relating to, or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the on which corresponds to the person’s sex at birth (or at least as listed on one’s birth certificate).
The so-called Bathroom Law — HB2, or the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — requires public schools and universities to limit usage of multi-occupancy bathrooms and locker rooms by biological sex. So a trans student who has “male” listed on his birth certificate, but now identifies as female, would have to use the men’s rooms, and vice-versa.
Because I am not part of that community, there is still much I personally do not know, but I am willing to learn. What I do know from my own research and from personally knowing a transgender person is that some individuals are born with two sets of sex organs, and since doctors will encourage parents of such babies to select one or the other, both for birth certificate purposes and for how the child will be raised, it is possible that the wrong sex will be chosen. But that is still just a small part of the transgender story.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, our society is very harsh on gender-variant people. “Some transgender people have lost their families, their jobs, their homes and their support.
Transgender children may be subject to abuse at home, at school or in their communities. A lifetime of this can be very challenging and can sometimes cause anxiety disorders, depression and other psychological illnesses. These are not the root of their transgender identity; rather, they are the side effects of society’s intolerance of transgender people.
“When you look across cultures, you will find that people have had a wide range of beliefs about gender. Some cultures look at people and see six genders, while others see two. Some cultures have created specific ways for people to live in roles that are different from that assigned to them at birth. In addition, different cultures also vary in their definitions of masculine and feminine. Whether we view someone as transgender depends on the cultural lenses we are looking through as well as how people identify themselves. Biologists tell us that sex is a complicated matter, much more complex than what we may have been taught in school. A person has XX chromosomes is generally considered female, while a person with XY chromosomes is generally considered male. However, there are also people who have XXY, XYY, and other variations of chromosomes; these genetic differences may or may not be visibly apparent or known to the person. Some people are born with XY chromosomes, but are unable to respond to testosterone and therefore develop bodies with a vagina and breasts, rather than a penis and testes. A variation in gender may just be part of the natural order and there are more varieties than we generally realize.
People with biological differences in gender may be considered intersex; they may or may not identify as transgender. There are medical theories about why people are transgender. Some speculate that fluctuations or imbalances in hormones or the use of certain medications during [the mother’s] pregnancy may cause intersex or transgender conditions. Other research indicates that there are links between transgender identity and brain structure.”
Thank goodness in Nevada it is possible to change one’s birth certificate to reflect one’s new name and sex, and Nevada will issue a new one rather than just amend the original one. This will eliminate the problem with having to use the incorrect bathroom because of what is recorded on the birth certificate.
Some people, when they hear about transgender individuals, want to know things like how much did the surgery cost, or how they can possibly give up the sex organs they were born with. Aside from the fact that some individuals are born with both sets of sex organs (shall we blame the baby, or God?) why would certain segments of society choose to treat them as less than normal human beings, even using biblical passages to condemn them.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, “while there are many costs associated with transitioning, there is also a cost when people who desire it do not do so. They may live a lifetime in which they never feel congruence between their body and their sense of self. They may be depressed and unhappy, or even suicidal, because they are not able to dress, live or work as they are comfortable. They may not have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams or live as they wish to live.”
I am not the one to determine what the definitive answer is to the new Bathroom Bill, which ostensibly is meant to keep girls and women “safe” from “unauthorized females” in their bathrooms, but isn’t that kind of like saying that all these years, under the old bathroom rules, no one could ever be a threat to them because only “natural-born” and “officially recorded” females would ever be in their bathrooms, and no officially-recorded female would ever be a threat to another officially recorded female?
Whether or not someone has had transgender surgery should never make a difference in how they are treated.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.