By Jessica MacGilvray
May 15, 2011 - 2:04:26 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C.—As described in the recent landmark study, “Injustice at Every Turn," transgender people face a lot of obstacles in navigating their way through life. There is overt opposition, hostility, prejudice, violence, discrimination and intimidation everywhere. But to my mind, the very worst thing I face is the denial that I even exist.
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Flag. Photo by Jocelyn Holt
Mostly Christian (but also Muslim) fundamentalist organizations, like Focus on the Family of the National Organization for Marriage, deny the existence of gay and transgender people. They view gay and lesbian people as misguided people in need of intensive therapy, and they view transgender people as just plain insane and in need of heavy-duty incarceration in a prison or mental health facility.
Millions of people read these opinions, which are not supported by either the mainstream medical or psychological communities, and are convinced of the correctness and benefit of their prejudice. Their desire to discriminate, harass and endanger LGBTQ people is justified. Myths like the idea that gay, lesbian and transgender people are "recruited" into adopting a "deviant lifestyle" are pervasive. The great harm that this kind of misinformation does is incalculable.
I can tell you that to be transgender is not an easy thing to be. To people of 19th century morals and sensibilities, I am a freak, a dangerous influence and someone who deserves censure and punishment for my crime of being who I am. But worse even than that is to be dismissed and disrespected, relegated to the status of a child playing with imaginary friends.
Imagine you are awoken tomorrow, knowing you are someone real, feeling it in every memory of your life and being told you are deluded and confused, that your convictions are imaginary and that your feelings are perversions. Would you feel like a character in some contemporary sci-fi flick? It is any wonder that so many transgender people go through long periods of self-loathing that is mentally, and often physically destructive? And it is totally unnecessary. It serves no purpose to these individuals or the communities in which they live. It is, in fact, mutually destructive: prejudice and discrimination always is.
And many transgender people do have quite a bit of inner confusion and uncertainty. They are trying to find their way, usually alone, through some of the most difficult and complex emotional and intellectual terrain in the realm of human experience. Even without the insane level of prejudice and discrimination, they get hurt. They need understanding and acceptance. They need empathy and sympathy, not derision, bullying, intimidation, or death.
More than a thousand transgender people are murdered for who they are every year around the globe. That is a horrific statistic and one we Americans should take pride in not contributing to, except that we inevitably do. Go look it up. "Still No Answers in Transgender Woman's Murder | NBC Philadelphia" is typical from an internet search.
Religious people, remember, please, what Jesus said: "Love one another."
Have compassion in your heart for those burdened differently to yourself and understand that each person must find their own way. We seek no harm to others and neither our identities, nor presentation, nor actions should provoke hostility, rage or retribution, not from anyone for any reason ever.
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