Why are transgender washrooms neededand are there any universities known for having gay-bashing incidents?


Dear Danni,

I applaud your interest in the transgender and gay communities, and I think your assignment topic deals with a very important human rights issue that more people should be talking about. You are asking about two different minority groups, and I will discuss each in turn.

1) Before I give you a short primer on some of the issues faced by transgender folk, I would first like to explain the term transgender. People often feel that because the terms ‘transgender’ and ‘gay’ are spoken of together, such as within acronyms like ‘LGBT’ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), that they are related. They are not. The transgendered and gay minorities are separate entities. A transgender person is someone who identifies with a gender other than the one they were raised with. What does this mean? How can someone identify with or ‘want’ to be of another gender? Lets take an example. A baby is born with typical ‘female parts’, is called a girl, dressed in pink clothing, named Jennifer and everyone celebrates the birth of a female child. But lo and behold once the child is old enough to understand a bit about who they are and have figured out their own gender identity (this usually happens very early, usually under the age of 7), they begin to feel a discomfort. This child who is being raised a girl may actually feel male. They want to do typical male things, they want to be seen as male, but they are not allowed to because the gender ‘box’ they are found in is very, very rigid. The child is told to behave as a girl. Our society would never accept a ‘masculine’ girl, would they? Transgender people feel a constant discomfort, often referred to as ‘gender dysphoria’ in medical literature until they find an outlet for their gender expression or until they transition to the gender they identify with until a point when the dysphoria is resolved. For some, simply dressing and presenting as their identified gender is enough, for others, hormonal and surgical treatments are necessary.

Why do trans people need separate bathrooms? Because there are enough people out there who cannot move beyond the idea of the gender binary. They see a person who was born female dressed and presenting as a male (or vice versa) as an abomination (perhaps for religious reasons), ignoring that it is a medical fact that the brain and the body may be bathed in different hormonal environments in utero, thereby giving rise to a person who is trapped in a body they do not want. Yes, the transgender brain really does ‘look’ like the brain of their identified gender under the microscope…

Trans people are often harassed, beaten and sometimes killed because they transgress the gender barrier. The bathroom setting is merely one battleground they face on a daily basis. Why should they have to deal with this type of discrimination? They shouldn’t, but until people learn to shape up and accept gender diversity, they deserve their own washrooms so they can urinate in peace and security like everybody else.

2) The gay community represents a group of people who are sexually attracted to people of the same gender. A transgender person may be gay, but most of the time, they are not. Ie: a female to male transsexual may be attracted to other males, or a male to female transsexual may be attracted to other females. It is estimated that only 10% of male to female transsexuals identify as lesbian (much like the rest of the population). Gays (otherwise known as homosexuals) suffer from a great deal of discrimination mainly because of religious dogma. Gays and lesbians can love one another and have secure, stable relationships and families just like heterosexual people. Anyone claiming otherwise is not reading reputable social scientific and medical literature. They probably also do not know any gays.

3) I think the assignment you should propose to your group is to research the universities where discrimination against homosexual and transgender people has been recognized and where steps have been taken to correct it. Try to find out what worked and what you can try and implement in your own environment. There are not specific schools that have been known for gay-bashing, as this is a wide-spread occurrence, and not all of them are reported or documented.

A person’s gender and sexual orientation are things they do not have control over, just like race, ethnicity and eye colour… This is why homophobia and transphobia are so damaging.

I hope this brief primer has given you a bit of direction and I wish you the best of luck with your assignment.

Sincerely,

Dr. S.


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Depuis 2002, AlterHéros répond à vos questions en ligne au sujet de la diversité sexuelle, de la pluralité des genres et de la santé sexuelle en général. Nous organisons aussi des activités pour les jeunes LGBTQIA2S+ de 14 à 30 ans et leurs allié.e.s.

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