Let's take a look at the term Transgender and how it is used. It might be useful to start with a definition and then go from there.
Transgender (pronounced /trænz'd??nd?r/) is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles.
Transgender is the state of one's "gender identity" (self-identification as woman, man, neither or both) not matching one's "assigned sex" (identification by others as male, female or intersex based on physical/genetic sex). "Transgender" does not imply any specific form of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, or asexual; some may consider conventional sexual orientation labels inadequate or inapplicable to them. The precise definition for transgender remains in flux, but includes:
· "Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these."
· "People who were assigned a sex, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves."
· "Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the sex (and assumed gender) one was assigned at birth."
And a definition from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation - GLAAD:
Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include, but is not limited to transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender non-conforming people. Use the term preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.
Personal choice is the key phrase in both definitions regarding Transgender. Broad generalities such as "transsexuals, intersex people, cross dressers and drag performers are not Transgender" or the reverse is inaccurate. Every person's gender expression and gender identity journey is unique and results in living an authentic life If an individual chooses to or not to identify as a Transgender person is their prerogative.
The tensions arising around this issue in the Transgender community or outside of it, as the case may be, tend to fragment an already small and fragile minority. Discrimination and violence against ALL Transgender people is rampant.
"It is part of social and legal convention in the United States to discriminate against, ridicule, and abuse transgender and gender non-conforming people," the survey says. "Nearly every system and institution in the United States, both large and small, from local to national, is implicated."
According to the survey, 41 percent of respondents reported attempting suicide, 26 percent said they had lost a job due to being transgender, and 19 percent reported being denied a home or apartment. Almost one-fifth said they'd been homelessness at some point.
The survey found that complaints of discrimination were particularly pronounced among blacks.
In an e-mail, Ja'briel Walthour of Hinesville, Ga., detailed the difficulties of growing up in the 1980s and `90s as an African-American boy in the South who began to identify as a female. Neither her church nor rural community offered acceptance, she said.
"I felt there was not an ounce of compassion or empathy for individuals who may be displaying atypical gender roles," and by 17 she was contemplating suicide, she wrote.
"I got into a place where I wanted to just not be here anymore," she said.
Walthour, now 34, eventually became a school bus driver while deciding to transition to female and pursue a degree in social work.
Transgender activists say future progress for their cause may depend on more people like Walthour choosing to speak out.
"We need more trans people telling their stories," said Diego Sanchez, a transgender aide to U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., at a forum last weekend. "We need to represent ourselves, and not let others represent us."
This is a plea for all of us to put aside our differences and join the fight with one strong voice to end discrimination and violence against Transgender people.
The decision is yours!
Among the key findings from “Injustice at Every Turn”:
· Respondents were nearly four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, with household income of less than $10,000.
· Respondents were twice as likely to be unemployed compared to the population as a whole. Half of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment or other mistreatment in the workplace, and one in four were fired because of their gender identity or expression.
· While discrimination was pervasive for the entire sample, it was particularly pronounced for people of color. African-American transgender respondents fared far worse than all others in many areas studied.
· Housing discrimination was also common. 19% reported being refused a home or apartment and 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity or expression. One in five respondents experienced homelessness because of their gender identity or expression.
· An astonishing 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to only 1.6% of the general population.
· Discrimination in health care and poor health outcomes were frequently experienced by respondents. 19% reported being refused care due to bias against transgender or gender-nonconforming people, with this figure even higher for respondents of color. Respondents also had over four times the national average of HIV infection.
· Harassment by law enforcement was reported by 22% of respondents and nearly half were uncomfortable seeking police assistance.
· Despite the hardships they often face, transgender and gender non-conforming persons persevere. Over 78% reported feeling more comfortable at work and their performance improving after transitioning, despite the same levels of harassment in the workplace.
Get the point??
Transsexual, transgendered or intersex?
Elischia Fludd explores the complexities of gender and the widespread societal ignorance surrounding it.
Question one: how many people do you know who are transsexual, transgendered or intersex?
Question two: how many times have you come across the voices of such people when you hear about gender-based violence?
Question three: what exactly does gender mean?
The answers to these questions are found within the gaps of the movement to prevent gender-based violence and the gaps in our understanding of the complexities of gender. Gender is mainly seen as the inherent sex of a person. Unfortunately, the sex that dominates the spotlight when it comes to violence is women.
The idea of women garnering attention as the main victims of gender-based violence is hugely problematic; it falls into the trap of labelling gender as a binary system of male-female. It does not consider gender as a social construction along a continuum of identities – identities that change as access to upward social mobility is either obstructed or opened.
Addressing gender-based violence through a binary lens inadvertently increases it against those who fall outside the parameters of a dual-gender perspective. When there is a consistent way of thinking that sees gender as absolute female or absolute male, all other alternatives, such as transgender, transsexual and intersex, become perceived as abnormal.
A person who is transgendered doesn’t fall into traditional gender categories, often rejecting traditional gender roles linked to their genetically-defined sex. Similarly for someone who is transsexual and desires to be accepted as the opposite sex to that which they were born. Meanwhile, someone who is intersexual lives with a combination of both male and female characteristics, ensuring they cannot be categorised according to a binary gender paradigm.
The perception of these people as abnormal sees them an impediment to “normal” life structures. Abnormalities are perceived as a threat to the “normal” flow of society, or, worse, as insanity. Under the gender binary system, when one identifies as something other than male or female, it is a “choice” that is usually considered not only extremely foolish, but insane.
And how does society deal with abnormalities? We typically deconstruct, destroy, contain, maintain and detain them by force. Thus, being of a gender outside of the male-female binary system becomes a dangerous affiliation to hold.
Mainstream statistics on specific violence targeted at persons identifying within alternative notions of gender are not surprisingly few and far between. What we do know is that gays and lesbians remain regular targets in most parts of Africa. Last week’s murder of Ugandan gay activist David Kato is but one example. Knowing this, it is not a stretch to assume that those who identify as transgendered or intersex also face similar violence.
Some societies are slowly beginning to grapple with the idea that alternative lifestyles are deserving of mutual respect. But where there has been greater acceptance of those living alternative lifestyles, it has not always been followed by specialised services for them.
The voices of some gender advocates illuminate what many living alternative gender lives know all too well, that those living outside the gender binary system (falling into the category of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and intersex: LGBTQI) are still second to most other human rights issues.
The 2009 Human Rights Watch report Together, Apart, provides us with a glimpse into the level of violence people of alternative genders and sexualities (and those who advocate on their behalf) face. It notes of sub-Saharan Africa: “Virtually any move LGBT groups make, from renting an apartment to holding a press conference, can feed a violent moral panic, where media, religious figures, and government collude.”
A country like South Africa ushered in a great gain for the movement by becoming the first nation of the world to enact constitutional protections against discrimination toward the LGBTQI community. Unfortunately, the report notes that “the lack of political will to enforce the laws also has ripple effects across the [African] continent. South Africa refuses to integrate human rights into its foreign policy.”
Recent publicity (including international online petitions to the South African government) around horrific and increasing accounts of “corrective rape” of lesbians has shown that this protection has also yet to fully be enshrined in domestic policy.
So, pop quiz.
Now that you know about the complexities of gender and the widespread societal ignorance about them, what will you do to educate yourself and stop violence against those who don’t fit into society’s definition of mainstream?
This answer is up to you.
Elischia Fludd is the founder and executive director of EOTO World, an international organisation devoted to peace-building through education. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service which brings fresh views to everyday news.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Posted by De Sube at 2/04/2011 10:35:00 AM