Friday, October 7, 2011

CNN - What fuels transgender backlash?

October is LGBT History Month, so in honor of that, here is a recent article from CNN on the cultural denigration of transgendered people. It seems that just as we are beginning to recognize and honor the full humanity of the LGB part of the acronym (what the hell took so long?), we still fear and reject the Trans community.

The "backlash" came in response to a story CNN ran about transgender children. It is insane to me that people blame the parents for a child who from a very early age identifies as opposite of his/her biology. If a child says this and acts this way for a week or a month or even a year, it might be a phase. But if it emerges at age three or four or five and does not go away, then honor your child's identity.

The report generated thousands of angry responses. Here is a bit from the original story:

Transgender kids: Painful quest to be who they are

By Madison Park, CNN
September 27, 2011

Click to play
Gender identity: A change in childhood

Berkeley, California (CNN) -- One of the first things Thomas Lobel told his parents was that they were wrong.

The 3-year-old had learned sign language because he had apraxia, a speech impediment that hindered his ability to talk. The toddler pointed to himself and signed, "I am a girl."

"Oh look, he's confused," his parents said. Maybe he mixed up the signs for boy and girl. So they signed back. "No, no. Thomas is a boy."

But the toddler shook his head. "I am a girl," he signed back emphatically.

Regardless of the fact he was physically male, Thomas has always maintained that he is a girl. When teased at school about being quiet and liking dolls, Thomas would repeat his simple response, "I am a girl."

Thomas, now 11, goes by the name of Tammy, wears dresses to school and lives as a girl.

Her parents have been accused by family, friends and others of being reckless, causing their youngest child permanent damage by allowing her to live as a girl.

When children insist that their gender doesn't match their body, it can trigger a confusing, painful odyssey for the family. And most of the time, these families face isolating experiences trying to decide what is best for their kids, especially because transgender issues are viewed as mysterious, and loaded with stigma and judgment.

Transgender children experience a disconnect between their sex, which is anatomy, and their gender, which includes behaviors, roles and activities. In Thomas' case, he has a male body, but he prefers female things likes skirts and dolls, rather than pants and trucks.

Gender identity often gets confused with sexual orientation. The difference is "gender identity is who you are and sexual orientation is who you want to have sex with," said Dr. Johanna Olson, professor of clinical pediatrics at University of Southern California, who treats transgender children.
Read the whole article here.

The response was so extreme that they ran a separate article on why people are so unwilling to accept transgender people, and why being the parent of a child who identifies as opposite of her/his biology can be so challenging.

What fuels transgender backlash?

By Madison Park, CNN
updated 10:16 AM EST, Fri September 30, 2011

(CNN) -- Tuesday's story about transgender children and their families shed light on an emotional topic and provoked strong response.

"Transgender kids: Painful quest to be who they are" centered on identity, gender, health, parenting and child development. It's not unusual for a popular story on to have hundreds or thousands of responses, but the overwhelmingly negative tone of Tuesday's comments raised the question about the root of the hostility. What exactly provoked such harsh opinions?

The discomfort toward transgender people comes from challenging conventions, said one academic who focuses on social attitudes and behavior.

In American culture, sex and gender belong in one of two categories, said Diane Everett, professor of sociology at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. As soon as humans are born, the first thing people ask is whether the baby is a boy or girl.

"We tend as a society to put people into boxes," she said. "Someone who is transgender is not only crossing gender boundaries, but also defying them. If people can't relate to you as an either-or, they have a hard time relating to you in their general comfort level."
Read the whole article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But, he's not a girl. Any sane person can see that. Sad that he can't. I wonder why not... What if he said he'd been born the wrong race. Would he seem delusional then? "Momma, I'm not white, I'm black." What if he said he'd been born with one too many legs and wanted one of them removed... Still take him at his youthful word? Probably not.