As human beings, we are constantly put into a box to categorize and make sense of the world around us. From a young age, the stereotypes around us define our behaviors based on the sex assigned at birth. From a young age, the toys and the media we consume have a clear bias to ensure we fit into the categories of our gender norms. Young girls are expected to be maternal as well as feminine and elegant. To ensure this, the toys that are targeted to a female market are designed to focus on looks as well as tools to take care of the home, such as baby dolls, barbies, and kitchen cleaning toys. The opposite can be said for boys as they are marketed with cars and action figures, teaching them to be strong and unemotional breadwinners.
But what happens if someone dares to erase those carefully constructed invisible lines imposed on us since childhood? How does the world react?
The world transgender is "an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behaviordoes not conform to that typically associated with their birth sex.” (DEFINITION BY AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION )
Although on the one hand, this may not seem like a big issue that should be concerning our society. Ourfundamental human rights allow us to choose who we want to be based on personal preferences and priorities.
Then how is it that the world constantly undermines those that are different, and why the transgender community has fought for years to be seen as an equal in society? However, in many countries, this is still not the case.
The Transgender community faces many battles daily, from public harassment, poverty, violence, and a lack of proper healthcare. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey:
More than half (55%) of those who sought coverage for transition-related surgery in the past year were denied, and 25% of those who sought coverage for hormones in the past year were rejected.
HIV rates were higher among transgender women (3.4%), especially transgender women of color.
Nearly one-quarter (24%) of people who were out or perceived as transgender in college or vocational school were verbally, physically, or sexually harassed.
These shocking statistics only show some of what transgender people face daily for just wanting to be themselves. The feeling of pure anxiety when performing simple tasks, just waiting, almost expecting to face harassment.
The effect this has on their mental health is devastating. Something as small as leaving the house becomes a problematic task, causing them to feel as though they are being watched and judged everywhere they go. The same survey showed that forty percent (40%) had attempted suicide in their lifetime, nearly nine times the rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).
As much as these experiences may seem horrific, unfortunately for many, this may be a best-case scenario.
In many religious societies, specifically in Asia and Africa where in many countries transgender rights and same-sex marriages are punishable crimes. Research conducted by the Human Dignity Trust suggests "4 countries criminalize the gender identity and expression of transgender people, using so-called 'cross-dressing,' 'impersonation' and 'disguise' laws. In many more countries, transgender people are targeted by laws that criminalize same-sex activity and vagrancy, hooliganism, and public order offenses.”
We often hear about the progression and how far society has come. This may be true, but it does not negate the fact that we still have a long way to go as a community to ensure that all people, regardless of who they choose to be, can feel safe and comfortable in all settings, whether that be at the park, a school or health care setting. These invisible borders embedded deep within our society need to be entirely erased. The art of self-expression and the ability to be yourself should be a fundamental human right, not a privilege to create a society truly fuelled by progression.
Photo Credit: trans_rights-logo_tw-post-1024x512.png
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