I must admit that before taking this class I didn’t give much thought about transgender identity. This is probably due to the fact that I have never personally had any experience (that I know of) with someone who considers him or herself transgender and to me it seemed like a very rare occurrence. However, after watching Transgeneration, I began thinking about how often people with transgender identities are seen in the media.

For example:

·      Thomas Beatie, the infamous pregnant man

·      Chaz Bono, son of Cher, currently on “Dancing With the Stars”

·      Isis from “America’s Next Top Model”

·      Katelynn on “The Real World”

·      Amanda Lepore, model and performance artist

As I came upon more and more examples in the media, Sexing the Body, and other readings, I realized that the percentage of transgenders in America must be way more than I initially imagined.  A study in the spring of 2011 by The Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law found that an estimated .3% of Americans are transgender. While that may not seem like a lot, it is in reality around 935,400 people, and almost three times the population of St. Louis.

While the transgender population grows in numbers and in recognition, so does the struggle for equality and acceptance in today’s society. We all saw the daily problems and the weightier problems Raci, Lucas, Gabbie, and T.J. faced in Transgeneration. We know how difficult college can be already, imagine having to worry about which bathroom to use or whether or not to disclose your “past” gender with new friends. Thankfully, state legislatures are beginning to finally recognize these struggles and are signing transgender rights bills into law. On October 10, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two of these bills:

·      The Vital Statistics Modernization Act streamlines the process for trans people to receive a new birth certificate or other identifying documentation that reflects their current gender.

·      The Gender Nondiscrimination Act “provides clarity to those who are victims of unlawful discrimination as well as for business owners, employers and other entities required to comply with the anti-discrimination protections by explicitly enumerating gender identity and expression as protected categories in a number of state codes.”

California is not the first and certainly not the last to pass transgender rights laws. Hopefully we will see the LGBT movement grow as a whole and acceptance become more widespread. Discrimination is ignorance and I imagine that the only thing more difficult than knowing you were born as the wrong gender is being discriminated for having the courage to address your true self. 

Posted By: Madden Hodes




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