Neutral is normal
May 12, 2015
They might make up only 0.3 percent of the population of the United States, according to Gary J. Gates. It might be something people aren’t used to. It might be something people are afraid of talking about. But a person who is transgender should not be “known” for anything. People who are transgender are just people.
With the Human Rights movement in full swing throughout the world, the words ‘lesbian,’ ‘gay,’ ‘bisexual,’ ‘transgender’ and ‘questioning’ (LGBTQ) frequent social media, the news and television. Even though it’s part of the commonly-used acronym, ‘transgender’ sparks more questions, especially at KHS.
Although I have grown up with two moms, the word ‘gay’ has been more familiar to me than ‘transgender.’ I’m sure this is the case for most people, since marriage equality legislation remains at the forefront of news outlets rather than gender identity equality legislation. This means gender identity is less talked-about, so the details of equality of all genders are not as thoroughly known as equality of all sexual orientations.
The word ‘transgender’ itself is an umbrella term referring to people who live differently than the gender presentation and roles expected of them by society. However, transsexual is a word for people who seek to live in a gender different from the one assigned at birth and who may seek or want to use hormones or undergo surgery to live comfortably in that gender.
The terms ‘gender-neutral’ and ‘non-binary’ refer to not associating with either the male or female gender, according to Christine Shore-Fitzgerald, graduate student studying counseling of people who are transgender.
This year, one of my best friends felt uncomfortable in their assigned gender role, so they asked some people to begin using the pronoun ‘they’ instead of ‘she’ and to be called by another gender-neutral name. This was a completely unknown experience for me, even though I have always been very passionate about the rights of all people.
After having known this friend by the same name and pronoun for over 10 years made it seem very unnatural to begin calling them by different ones, so I would try and avoid saying any name or referring to them as ‘they’ so as to respect their wishes and to remain comfortable with myself. Although I felt like this was what I should do initially, I’ve come to realize this is not okay.
By not calling them by their new name and pronoun, I was thereby making their being gender-neutral an unnatural, abnormal decision and disrespecting someone I really do respect. Once I embraced this, their new name and pronoun came pouring out of my mouth just as easily as all of the other words in my vocabulary.
It’s understandable to be uncomfortable, confused or hypercautious after finding out someone is transgender or gender-neutral. It might even be a shock. It might be challenging to call friends by different names or pronouns, but if people show compassion and try their best, people most likely won’t hurt people who are transgender’s feelings or make them uncomfortable if they call them by the wrong name or pronoun.
With that said, people who are transgender should not be extremely offended when people occasionally refer to them incorrectly be it by name or pronoun. Also, people who don’t tell others their new name and pronoun have no place to be angry at others for calling them the wrong thing, since others would have other idea of what else to do.
Since over 50 percent of people who are transgender will have had at least one suicide attempt by the age of 20, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, it is essential for everyone to realize one thing: people who are transgender’s voices should be heard and their wishes should be respected.
It might be uncomfortable to call people by new names and pronouns, but being transgender is completely normal and should be accepted by society. Instead of bullying others for their differences, people should be understanding and aid people who are transgender, so as to help them comfortably transition.
Questions like ‘Are you going to have surgery?’ and ‘What body parts do you actually have?’ may run rampantly around people’s brains. It is never appropriate to ask these questions to people who are transgender or gender-neutral. In fact, it would never be acceptable to ask anyone these questions, so being transgender does not justify asking them personal questions of that nature.
At KHS, there is a score of people who are transgender. They are Pioneers. They are students. They are people.