As part of #TransAwareness Week, Nov. 12th - 19th, let's examine a few harmful myths still circulating in 2018.
Since 2016 North America saw the first openly trans employee hired in the White House, they called it a' Transgender Tipping Point' when Laverne Cox made the cover of Time magazine and up North in Canada, we passed Bill C-16, creating a new law which explicitly prohibits discrimination against transgender Canadians and affords them protection against hate crimes.
Yet, in many ways, we're dangerously stalled (leaked memo about U.S. President's intentions to erase trans peoples rights, right-wing movements around world spark rise in transphobic and homophobic hate crimes).
In 2017, research indicated one third of all trans people in the UK suffered hate crimes:
In the UK, two in five (41 per cent) of trans people have experienced a hate crime because of their gender identity in the past 12 months, with that figure shooting up to 53 per cent for young trans people aged between 18 and 24.
If we want progress, we need to know what is real and what is Fake News.
From bathroom threats to children unable to discern their own gender; let us examine the myths prevalent in 2016:
Myth #1 of the article focuses on the bathroom and sadly this still provokes violent feelings and polarization. So much so, in southern U.S. parents at a local Jr. High threatened on social media to kill a trans child for using the bathroom.
The idea that trans people are sexual predators is ignorant and discriminatory.
Meanwhile some trans youth are so scared to use the bathroom that matches their identity, they're suffering extreme dehydration from not drinking fluids or they're holding their bladders to the point of injury.
Myth #2: A 5-year-old doesn’t know enough about gender to be transgender.
It's important to note there is vast progress being made to counter presumptions around trans youth. The American Academy of Pediatrics released in Sept. 2018 a standard of care recommendation for all health care providers supporting trans youth and gender diverse children. It's accurate and medically backed by an association of more than 67,000 children's health specialists.
PFLAG Canada chapters are seeing more and more families with young gender diverse children between ages 3-to-10 years old, needing support. They note key areas include:
'Awareness is key as it leads to a more informed and accepting society...The feeling of isolation is high for our community which often leads to a higher risk for depression.'
PFLAG Canada Durham Region
Myth #3. Being transgender is relatively new
As the above article illustrates, gender-bending has been around a long time.
Ancient Greek mythology references feminine souls in male bodies.
Anti-trans sites (disguised as helpful resources) emphasize trans youth as victims of a phenomenon, attention seeking or subjects of a made-up, medically unrecognized term called, Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria. It's highlighted as a phase and provides a platform for these hate-oriented sites to promote conversation therapy, 'a cure', because they're transphobic and don't recognize trans people as human beings.
A teacher reading a book about gender identity, will not make a child want to change their gender. It may help a child find words to describe how they're feeling; make them feel less alone; and help end stigma surrounding gender diversity.
Education around gender identity is also not sex ed.
It's about including all children; and not every child identifies with their sex assigned at birth. To deny them inclusion is to scar their childhood with invisibility. It fosters feelings of aloneness.
Myth #4: Transgender people often come to regret transitioning.
They don't. When supported, very few trans people feel regret.
With regard to surgeries and the regret myth, #NYB
or... it's really not your business to even go here in conversation. It's personal. Deeply.
Ask yourself - Are you OK and comfortable interjecting your opinions on someones chemo treatment or a surgery they're having?
If the answer is NO, than same goes here. If you haven't done your research; you haven't spoken to any trans people; how can you presume you've any knowledge worth offering here?
An important caveat about trans related surgery; trans people are trans people. Whether or not someone has surgery, has no reflection on them being trans.
We all have decisions to make around being comfortable in our bodies.
And by the way, has your husband had his vasectomy? Nope, I'd never ask you that.
Sexual orientation and gender expression
A trans female (amab or 'assigned male at birth') may like women or they may like men. This is sexual orientation. They may like uber feminine clothing or
hey, they may rock overalls. Any maybe this changes day to day.
As a cis woman my personal expression varies all the time. To assume one persons expression defines their orientation is naive.
Lesbian songwriter, Grace Petrie, breaks down society's narrow views on gender in her song, 'Black Tie Tonight':
“I didn’t have any butch or masculine female role models when I was young and the only time butch women were visible in media or culture, they were basically presented as a joke, or something inherently unattractive and unacceptable.
Following an anti-trans protest at Pride in London in July, Petrie is keen to show that, as a butch lesbian, she supports trans and non-binary rights.
“I hate transphobia in any form but I am especially so disappointed when I see it coming from the feminist and lesbian communities,” she explained.
Notably, our fave line in Black Tie Tonight is:
'And no you won't grow out of it....You'll find clothes that fit.'
Here's to us all finding the right fit. Happy Trans Awareness Week!
For a list of Resources and Definitions and helpful info, please check out our Resource page.