America has things separated based on one's gender: bathrooms, clothes, toys, schools, what one’s gender is is very relevant in society. So what does one do if their gender is a lot more complicated than cis-male or cis-female?
- denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender.
The Teenage Transgender struggle-
One’s gender is very important. They need it to identify themselves, to apply for passports, colleges, drivers license, and many other applications. America has things separated based on one's gender: bathrooms, clothes, toys, schools, what one’s gender is is very relevant in society. So what does one do if their gender is a lot more complicated than cis-male or cis-female? Once you change your gender from the one you were born with, you are transgender.
Being transgender in America is generally complicated. You have to deal with discrimination, judgement, laws, and many other difficult things. There are few laws that cater to you, and finding a bathroom to use in public is very difficult. Many people won’t understand, or will have bias thoughts about, one's gender.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 41% of transgenders attempt suicide and 19% are refused service.
Close to beginning of 2015 there has already been 4 transgender teen suicides. Leelah Alcorn (December 28, 2014), Zander Mahaffey (February 15, 2015), Melonie Rose (February 11, 2015) and Ash Haffner (February 26, 2015) . Those are just we know of.
It is not legally possible to take hormones without guardian permission or somebody over the age of 18 permission. So as a teen, it is extremely hard to get hormones if your parents are unaccepting. That is if your parents haven't abused or kicked you out for being trans.
America does not require gender-neutral restrooms, which can be highly troublesome for transgender high school students. Especially for those who haven’t come out, or often face bigotry at school, home, or just in general.
Those are just facts. Here are the responses from different gendered teens whom I asked different questions regarding transgenderism.
Peoples Opinions About Trans Related Topics-
What do you think about our new gender neutral bathroom?
Aaron R, Gender Neutral- We have one? *excited look* I need that in my life. I feel so awkward going in the girls.
Jiggly S, Gender Fluid- Wait we have one? Bro, I’m fucking going. I didn't know we had one and I’m totally gonna use it.
Molly G, Cis-Female- I support it. I think it’s really important that everyone get the same opportunities.
What do you think is the hardest part about being a trans teen?
Aaron R- Either people denying it (transgenderism) or the fact that you have to explain your identity.
Jiggly S- Uh, idk. I expect to get shit talked and people are really disrespectful. I get misgendered a lot.
Molly G- Well I wouldn't know. The hardest thing must be growing up in a society where you’re an anomaly and society expects something from you.
How do you think most parents react to their transgender teens?
Aaron R- I think it kinda varies. It depends on how they are raised. Right around now (in this era) they say they are accepting but then they misgender their kids.
Jiggly S- Well it depends on the parent. My parents misgender me a lot. I know some parents aren't as accepting and that sucks…
Molly G- Well that's a huge generalization. I wish every kid had the support some kids get from their parents. I don’t want any kid being told they can’t be a certain gender or have a certain sexuality.
What’s your experience in your (current) gender?
Aaron R- Its confusing. Its hard being labeled gender fluid. I feel like I don’t really fit anywhere. Dysphoria is something I deal with a lot.
Jiggly S- I honestly haven’t been gender fluid for a long time. I feel a lot more comfortable now. I sometimes misgender myself.
Molly G- Wow, um, I grew up without many friends. The area I lived had white minorities, and I was told that I wasn't pretty enough or straight enough to hang around the girls my age. So I hung out with a lot of guys. So that made me question a lot of things. I allow myself time. Today I’m girl, who knows what I’ll be tomorrow.
How does your (current) gender affect your relationships?
Aaron R- Um outside of school, people tend to think I’m really weird and they call me by my birth name. With my old friendships, we broke off. I would get a lot of ridicule (from them).
Jiggly S- Um, well, It depends. My dad is pretty cool, but my mom misgenders me a lot. At least she’s trying. I’m not expecting them to get used to it right away. My old partner called me either their partner or boyfriend and I didn't really care. You can call me whatever. As long as I know what I prefer.
Molly G- Uh, well, I’m privileged. Well I’m not straight so it’s different that way. Never have I had my parents tell me I have a vagina so I’m a girl. I’m lucky to have my gender match my sex.
Be An Ally-
Don’t misgender. It’s always best if you ask someone their PGP (preferred gender pronoun) if you don’t know it for sure. Although, if you are re-learning someones PGP, it’s okay to make mistakes. As long as you correct them.
If you don’t know someones PGP, ask. There is nothing wrong with asking as long as you’re polite.
Be respectful. Don’t purposely misgender people or ask rude questions. If you don’t know whether or not a question is offensive, you can always ask what someone is comfortable with. A good step towards being an ally is also standing up for someone who is being targeted by someone who isn't being respectful.
NEVER out someone. Never tell someone else about a transgenders gender status if said trans does not want others knowing. Even if you think you might be helping said person, or if you think their parents might know, always check in with said person first.
Think before you speak. Think about a comment before you say it. Saying things like, real man or real woman can come of a little rude. Be careful and considerate when making comments about transgenders.
R.I.P to all the 2015 trans teens, and to the ones from past years, and to the ones that are considering doing in the future. Stay strong.
Trans Lifeline is a non-profit dedicated to the well being of transgender people. We run a hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people.