Transgender Awareness

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Transgender; a term denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their sex. While many people think that being “transgender” relates to sexuality, this isn’t the case. Being transgender isn’t a sexual preference, but an identity.

    By the age of six, humans will know whether they’re a “girl” or a “boy”. While a large amount of development happens during puberty, at a young age children can identify what gender they are and want to associate with. In some cases the person’s genitals don’t match who they are, or, in other terms, they feel they were put in the wrong body.

    From personal experience with those who are transgender, the struggles are very intense. The person who’s had the biggest influence on me is Colin Hughes, my cousin. As a child, he was always very articulate and not a “normal” rowdy 5 year old boy. He took a stereotypically feminine approach on everything. His gender identity finally came into play when he was in 8th grade; he would dress in his mother’s clothes when he was home alone, he even started a YouTube channel expressing some of his issues. After his parents divorce, he came forth and explained he wanted to be female. His parents accepted it, and decided to get him on estrogen pills and do the surgery needed that summer. Although he knew he was in the wrong body, gender changing surgery is an extremely lengthy process, which is completely changing your body’s chemistry, especially for someone who’s only 13. This process of gender change is suggested to take place when the patient is older and prepared better psychologically.  Even though Colin never went through with the surgery, anxiety about the procedure was constantly on his mind, a big decision for someone so young, due to the surgery being irreversible. Which can be the case for transgender teens, an unfortunate trend. A few days before his 14th birthday, Colin took his own life. According to The US Department of Health and Human services, “LGBT youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.” As well as a report from a Washington Transgender Survey, “In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25”.

    The reason why this story is significant is because it reveals struggles of those who were born with the wrong body, go through on a day to day basis. Part of his stress was feeling as if those he was close to, such as friends or extended family wouldn’t accept him for his change. Some fear their parents will disown them, or their friends will no longer want to be around them.

    As humans, we categorize people, we may see a “boy” and refer to them as such, but they could identify as female. Of course it’s hard for people who’ve known them as “he” for so long to suddenly use “she”, but those who have no respect for transgender people are the ones that make it their mission to use the wrong pronoun, to frown upon their identity. An American Journal of Public Health stated that, “each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.” It’s as bad as hating someone because they’re a different race, religion or origin. It’s their identity and who they are.