In the early nineties, the introduction to many firsts prevailed. There was the introduction to hip-hop that seem to speak about the life lived in hood. The first time “macking” on a young lady in front of family and friends, no matter how embarrassing it was for the young lady, was met with high hopes. The one memory that seemed to be burnt into the synapses of my brain is the memory of the “coming out” party of cousins at the seventy-fifth birthday party of my great-grandmother. The one of my cousins revealed that she was lesbian. This was met by my great grandmother saying, “I’ve always known she was a little weird.” The biggest news of the night was when my elder distant cousin, her nephew arrives in full attire: Long-grown hair, a fitted red A-line skirt equipped with hips, fitted button-down blouse, and black pumps asking everyone to call him Erin. After the explanation, Aaron will be referred to as Erin and him as her.
Now Aaron, his given name, was a cousin that always seemed effeminate. He was the youngest of the first cousins which allowed the ability to play with his cousins that were younger and possibly more accepting of his ways. There was nothing strange, but at this moment, I felt that I always knew that Aaron and I were not similar but I enjoyed interacting with him and my cousins. He never excluded me from the hangouts, although being the age of seven was entirely too young to be privy to some of the conversations he and the female cousins were discussing.
The moment of the reveal was a shock because Erin showed up fully dressed and ready to express the identity that he has always felt on the inside. Now what was on the inside was on the inside. All my great grandmother could say, “Couldn’t say that I didn’t expect it.” Although I saw my cousin as a very beautiful woman, it struck me hard as something I fully did not understand. Questions arose about myself from all the times we would play dress up in my great grandmother’s wardrobe. She possessed clothes and the best hats from moments of history where liberation was peaking. Erin addressed the family of her desire to be called Erin and she wanted to be accepted as who she felt. I was perplexed. The guy that would spend time with other cousins that I loved to spend time with has just come as what…a woman? But he is man? How can he be a girl? Could we now choose?
Questions after the awakening flooded my mind. If you want to be known as woman, do you still like women or now do you like men? She says she has always been attracted to men. I would ask, “What if one of the guys you like finds out you have guy parts, then what?” Her response, “I have to be careful of the people I date because not everyone will like me for who I am on the inside.” One of the more final questions asked, “If you still have man parts and you dress as woman, but like men, does this mean that you are gay?” Her response, “No, because I am woman.”
As the years rolled by, witnessing some fights with other men, I felt horrible for Erin. How can someone live in a world that does not accept you the way the family does? This smaller scaled sociology experiment became an eye opening moment which defined for myself the difference between Gender, Sex and Sexual Identity. More questions arose to how can one go against the grain to exist in a nation where individualism seems important as long as you were a part of the group? The recent in fluctuation of being transgender has ballooned or has revealed itself to the public in such a fashion as, “I am here and hear me roar.” The idea could only be fathomed as what will be examined here: What is the real issue with transgender people? This can be easily answered but may be met with resistance, the “I am not like that defense,” and a slew of other arguments those may use in defense of one’s beliefs, social standing and the conviction of knowing oneself. The formation of the transgender issue has nothing do with the transgender community itself but the tremendous fear that comes with the acceptance of the community by fearful heterosexuals that cling to the ideals, possibly even archaic ideals of the main stream society that exist. The thing that is needed first is to define these terms Sex, Sexual Identity and Gender Identity and then these three questions must therefore be discussed: During the age of tolerance, is it fear of being labeled a bigot; is it fear of the acceptance of someone being different, will rock the foundations of the heterosexual identity; and do heterosexuals want their sexual gender identity questioned? If all these questions can be answered, then the primary question will therefore be answered: What is the Real issue with Transgender People?
First the terms need to be clarified. These terms will be referenced throughout and must therefore be agreed upon the meaning of these terms or that the case will not move forward. It is important that these terms be discussed objectively and be understood objectively to truly understand the non-bias concepts. There is Gender Identity. As stated on GLAAD.org: Gender Identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or woman (or someone outside of that gender binary. In other words, how the person feels on the inside does not match what is on the outside and therefore will identify with the gender associated with the feeling on the inside. Now as from a Women’s Study site, Feminism.Eserver.org, defines Sexual Identity as being what one is sexually attracted to such as being Homosexual (gay, lesbian), Heterosexual (straight), Bi-Sexual (lover of both men and women). The final definition that needs to be examined is Sex. Sex is defined as being male or female which is dependent on one’s sex organs. These terms need to be defined to point out the differences amongst the examples that will be read.
The initial issue is that the main stream society has tied together and blended the boundaries between Sexual Identity, Sex and Gender Identity to make it easier to define what is to be a man or woman. In the Miss Representation of Women, a fabulous documentary, it asked the questions to boys and girls about what does it take to be a man (only to the boys) and a woman (only to girls). The boys’ answer would represent every macho male stereotype we have seen on the big screen since John Wayne. He has to be tough, brave, a protector and among other things. The young ladies would answer with a large amount of adjectives and not just the title of mom. The role of a woman as changed but the idea of a man has not. If wondering what this has to do with it, then it will be explained. If society, media, entertainment and other avenues describe and define the roles, some in more rigid and non-flexible ways, as one particular thing which has been unspoken but unconsciously agreed upon that this is what being a man or woman is then anything deviating from the main stream definition will raise questions. How are they intertwined?
If the social construct made the idea of what is to be a man and woman socially but unconsciously agreed upon, then if man or woman does not fit the blended definition nor abide by the social acceptance then that man or woman would be considered outcasts because they do not fit what is “normal” in the eyes of society. For example, if asked, “What are the attributes of a Fire Fighter?” This questioned has been asked among American friends and the responses were as such: brave, strong, willing to put oneself in danger to save another, Courageous (which the examples vary) and among some other attributes but these were the top answers. Now in comparison to other countries, it has been shown that America has what is called the Hero Complex. The hero complex, written by Eddie Helmig, states, “The hero complex, also known as hero syndrome or superhero complex is an inherent desire to help others. It is compulsion to help make the world right. (1)” In addition to this, the person such as a police officers, military as seen in the movie Hurt Locker, or fire fighters would either put themselves or others in harm’s way to complete the objective. Now in other countries, this may not be the case. On many moments witnessed on a personal level, the fire fighters will not put themselves nor the team in harms’ way because they have to put out the fire. In many instances, the country has put preventative measures within the person’s home to be able to escape through window by using a rope so the job of the fire fighter is to instruct and help from the outside. Many of the American people asked to compare the actions of the fire fighters felt the Korean fire fighters were not “manly” because they did not run in to the building to help. Now on the other side of that coin, the fire fighters of American would be deemed “crazy” for behaving in such a way. These individuals are still considered men by the respected societies. Now based on the sex that these individuals were born, they are male. Based on the Gender Identity and the classification of the role they are men, but their Sexual Identity may differ. One could be Gay, the other straight and eventually may not conform to the Gender Identity and change.
In summary, if the terms can be agreed upon, then sex is recognized by one’s birth, sexual identity is the sexual orientation of being gay or straight, and gender identity is a social construct which differs from culture to culture, society to society and even across continents. As the language grows and adapts to the society which it is used to communicate ideas then the ideas of that represent that community must also change. At one point, marriage between same could not be conceived and none of the less, bi-racial, which race is another societal construct, relationships were deemed indecent. Some could be lynched because crossing those imaginary boundaries that separated everyone could not and should not ever be crossed.
As discussed above, the defining of these constructs and ideas are needed to be understood because now the meat of the issue is at hand. During the age of Tolerance, is it fear of being labeled a bigot if one disagrees with the transgender movement? People have used the bigot argument to label and shame individuals into being quiet. It was used during President Obama’s terms. If someone disagreed with his policies, the term racist was used to quiet the logical argument. Notice that logical was used before the use of the term argument. An emotional response was used to quiet down a logical argument. It used especially if speaking in front of the public. To anger the mob is an easy tool to get the logical person to shut it down. One may ask, how does this relate to being a bigot? These are two powerful terms that will inspire such an emotion within the crowd to transform the crowd into a mob if the person that is speaking may logically speak upon something that is right.
Although all truths may depend on certain points of view, one must never forget that tolerance and understanding are ways to getting know something that is strange and unusual to the mainstream public. Truth is truth no matter upon one’s point of view. There has been truth to be said if one disagrees for legitimate reasons; but the fear, which is a powerful tool to create irrational behavior, of being labeled a bigot may cause one to hide true intentions behind noble causes because it may not disagree with the version of tolerance viewed by the mainstream society. It may not immediately be said to be hate speech. These are actions that are being disguised as honorable actions in saving someone that can cannot protect oneself while grouping two groups that do not have any correlation is what has been happening in various forms are prejudice ways of thinking. For example, in 2015 in the city of Houston, Texas, there was city ordinance being proposed as proposition called the H.E.R.O for short. HERO stood for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. This ordinance was written and amending previous equal rights to include groups not fitting into the mainstream protection: namely the LGBT community. The HERO, as mentioned in the Washington Post, was to prohibit discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual’s sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy (web). Why would this fail? Something that seems to be correct way to go would be shot down by an overwhelming majority? It is due to fear and hate speech being presented as something that honorable. The line of defense made against the HERO was that it will allow men to use the women’s restroom. Not only will men be able to but also child predators will be allowed to dress up as women, beard and all, to say, “I am a transgender woman and allow me to use this restroom.” Then the cry heard, “We must protect the children.” Now the argument is protecting the children from men who are child molesters that dress up as women to prey upon the restrooms so no man should be allowed to use the restroom. The wrong that is being done is the combining of a man who does not identity as the gender of male and says he is woman with a man who is attracted to children. Man who is attracted to children is not the same as a man who identify with being woman. The implication is that perverse love of affair of man with a child is the same as a man who wants to live as a woman. This is only due to the nature that it breaks the mainstream acceptance. The difference is that a grown up whether man or woman is having sexual relations with someone who is neither old enough, sexually mature enough to handle that type of relationship. The child would be coerced into this relationship by the adult. The crime in with a man dressing up, identifying, and living as a woman is nonexistent. The true crime is the fear of being labeled a bigot and being excommunicated by the mainstream group to live as the group that is being discriminated against. The slanted heroics is detrimental to the mainstream because it is purposely tearing down one group to speak of the heroics of protecting one that is less fortunate of the strength of protecting oneself.
Another fear that is perpetuated amongst the mainstream is that the fear of acceptance of someone that is different will rock the foundation of the heterosexual world. Before it was hetero versus homosexuals, it was heterosexuals versus heterosexuals. During the different moments of American history, the mixing of the races was looked down upon by the mainstream society of the time which was white society. The society was focused on preserving one’s culture and identity. If one, who was white, were caught spending time with one that was Black, the white person could be met with scrutiny and titles such as Nigger Lover. Also fear of being met with violence would keep the individuals of either race from interacting. If thought about, why would this be such an issue? Does the Black family work like the White family? Do the sons of both grow up and possibly become fathers?
Now moving forward, the same could be said about the parts of the LGT community. The B is left out due to being Bi-sexual and could possibly marry someone of the opposite sex which therefore would end the argument. The same fear could be met when it came to Same-Sex Marriages. The arguments somehow demeaned the sanctity of heterosexual marriage if the same sex were allowed. On the web site, www.tfpstudentaction.org, list reasons why same sex marriage is wrong. A couple of the main reasons of the top ten are: It violates Natural Law, it does not create a family but a Naturally Sterile Union, and it offends God (web). These three main reasons seem troubling because it all refers to biblical stand points. If a religion states be fruitful and multiply, you are not physically capable of doing it within a same sex marriage. If not able to procreate under the natural law or in the way the God of the set religion intends then is it damning all the hetero-marriages that are unable to bore children? If a husband and wife found out that they are not able to conceive or has chosen not to is this not labeling them as a sterile union and also not a family which would therefore go against the God of set religion? Could the Childless by Choice couple be referred to the couple the personal gratification of two individuals whose union is sterile (tpftstudentaction.org)? The argument could be made that they could change their mind, but that is an excuse being made. It in a way violates the natural order also. The different sex not able to or will not procreate together is a broken union so by this way of looking at it should be broken up because they are beneath those that can procreate and the sterile union serves no purpose to the machine. The couple truly matters if the machine can be fed. What about all the sterile families that are adopting? The family unit has changed along with the times. At one point, it was immoral to mix together and now there are biracial couples on tv. Sixty years ago this would have caused riots. The irony of the whole issue that is begged to be specific when listing the natural order. If one will say natural order, then it can lead to the defense of the West African frog that can change the sex of itself to balance the population if the ration to male to female and vice versa was off (M.Ogata).
Enter the Transgender community, the fear is met with accepting those that are different is that the idea of someone not wanting to be the sex he or she were born is a foreign concept. Someone wanting to change the way one look physically to match the idea within ones’ head is a foreign concept. If this believed, then this must be the epitome of double standards. According to ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) released a report that there were 15.9 million surgical and minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures performed in the Unites States in 2015 (ASPA). With all of these procedures it was stated, “they are able to focus on specific target areas of the body to achieve the look they desire (ASPA).” These individuals that are able to go change the appearance of oneself to match the appearance he or she see for oneself then how can one person be scrutinize for changing one’s appearance while if the other does it fully or partially then it is immoral and indecent? The truth is that within America, the value of expressing one’s identity is important. Whether one feels as hip hop artist, country singer, or any other label one wants to be labeled it is truly up to the individual to express it no matter how one sees fit.
Finally, the question that must be asked: Do heterosexuals want their Sexual Identity question or to question one’s Sexual Identity? It is so much easier to have things black and white. Once it gets to a shade of grey, questions arise. During the days when men were manly men and dressing as such while women were dainty dandelions in the garden made simple to choose a mate, there would be no question. Me, William like you, Kimberly. As stated before, a sterile union must be avoided, it must be easy for the sake of creating more cogs that fit in the unity of society thus society can live on. Without children, the machine cannot be fed. Either way, the society must be preserved and each person must play his or her part in preserving such society. One deviation from this mathematical equation for what the majority that has fallen under this spell is called “normalcy” will then be questioned when it comes to his or her own sexuality which people rely heavily upon the labels of society has put in place.
It is difficult when one begins to question one’s belief that they come to know. For example, in the Wachoski’s movie, The Matrix, Neo questions his entire life until the point he returns inside the matrix to meet the oracle. During the scene, they gang pass by a location where Neo bought really good noodles and questioned that it was never real. Trinity just confirms that his experiences are still his life. Another example within season five of the hit television show, The American Horror Story: Hotel, the hotel attendant Liz Taylor is making love or has finished making love how Tristan is still a straight male because Liz Tyler identifies as a straight woman. This is the moment that guys fear if they are tad bit homophobic. Granted we are not talking about Dennis O’Hare but the unforeseen moment the guy or woman meets someone and falls for the individual. Then the individual finds out his or her partner is not what the person seems to be. As written by Elain Artwell, “Liz has to explain that this (the love affair) doesn’t make Tristan gay since she identifies as a straight woman.(web)” Some will be thinking, this never has to happen between a man and woman. Are not there enough questions between straight couples already?
The biggest thing would be when my cousin Erin would try to just live but men would hit on him. It was a relentless onslaught of cat calls and whistles. The endless ”can get your number” questions as they would follow him through the mall. There was one time where the young man responded violently because Erin kept trying to explain he is not going to like this. The guy persisted until Erin explained that he was a boy. The young man became so enraged that he began to fight my cousin. Mall security had to come Erin tried to defend herself against this mortified attacker. This is all because this person could not accept that physically his interest were aroused by someone of the same sex but not gender since Erin identified that he was a woman; but he had to run of potential threats with the best way of explaining it that he had male sex organs.
In summary, the straight individual would have to learn how to cope with the fact if he or she is attracted to someone that does not identity as the gender that comes with physical sex of the individual. The confusion of the talk of Liz Taylor and Tristan from American Horror Story is really that confusing. Were these lines really there? As there are some species of frogs or fish that changes it sex to cope with the lack of one gender being in lower supply. Furthermore, there is no need to questions oneself because it could be the spirit of the person that is found attractive. This would be equipped with the mannerisms of the gender that the person identifies or an output of the pheromones that will draw the person in more.
In conclusion, what is the real issue with transgender people? The answer is nothing. There is no real issue with the community. The issue lies within an unyielding, flexible and could be said archaic formation and understanding of sex, sexual identity and gender identity amongst the fearful, ignorant heterosexual community which clings to ideals that makes the community the main stream form of society.
The formation of the transgender issue has nothing do with the transgender community itself but the tremendous fear that comes with the acceptance of the community by fearful heterosexuals that cling to the ideals, possibly even archaic ideals of the main stream society that exist. The thing that is needed first is to define these terms Sex, Sexual Identity and Gender Identity and then these three questions must therefore be discussed: During the age of tolerance, is fear of being labeled a bigot; is it fear of acceptance of someone being different, will rock the foundations of heterosexual identity; and do heterosexuals want their sexual gender identity questioned? If all these questions can be answered, then the primary question will therefore be answered: What is the Real issue with Transgender People?
The honest answer is nothing. The issue lies within the hearts and minds of the mainstream individual that built his or her whole life on the system that perpetuates the continual existence of itself, society. Without children, society cannot continue. Without viable couples, there will be no children. These ideas are true to some extent. The idea that society is based on family and the production of children; but let everyone be realistic. There are more kids being born from unwed, or unwanted situations from around the world and procreation is not the only way for a sterile couple to obtain a child to expand the family. In this effort, society will still be able to preserver through adoption.
To end on the note which began, the life of my cousins Erin whether Erin lived as Aaron or Erin, the life that was lived taught lessons of tolerance and respect for one must go through if one truly tries to live as an individual. Living in pursuit of your own happiness must somehow interacts with everyone else’s happiness. Although a personal thought is that as long as my pursuit doesn’t interfere with your pursuit then everything is all good; but if the pursuits happen to cross paths and the ideals of happiness does not coincide with each other’s view then I hope an amicable middle ground of understanding could be met without violence, persecution and bigotry. Erin had to fight each step of the way. Erin endured harassment from physical to sexual while trying to be free. There is an understanding why others would respond in the manner which they did but did not make it correct. The issues were clearly not with my trans-gendered cousin, Erin, but with the mainstream which was parted by the rock.
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