International Trans-Visibility Day

Learning and loving go together.

Its+not+just+a+phase.

Ella Jennings, The Horizon

It’s not “just a phase.”

Riley Potter, Staff Writer

This past Thursday, March 31 was International Trans-Visibility Day. At this time in our nation, when transgender identities are under attack, it seemed fitting to devote a space to celebrating trans individuals and educating the masses on what it means to be trans. 

There is a lot of misinformation out there but essentially, for a cisgender individual, gender idenity will match the sex recorded on a birth certificate. However, for some folks, per a UN report on trans identity, their “assigned sex isn’t true to who they really are.” As such, they are referred to as trans or transgender.

This concept of gender fluidity is nothing new, with deep “historical and cultural roots,” as displayed in the hijra in India, two-spirit in many indigenous tribes, the fa’afafine in Samoa and the waria in Indonesia.

A common myth about trans identity is that it is “just a phase.” Not only is this problematic, but it is also untrue as there is now broad agreement that being trans is a biological phenomenon. Labeled gender dysphoria, it is a condition transgender people may feel about the inconsistencies between their bodies and their gender identity. A medical diagnosis can help patients receive medical treatment to enable them to transition. 

For many, transitioning is a way to ensure “passing,” or being seen by others as their declared gender, which can be emotionally and mentally important for many trans people. However, there are varying views within the trans community about passing, as some are comfortable with being out as trans and don’t feel the desire to present themselves as a cisgender person.

I had the chance to chat with a friend who identifies as gender fluid, and while they aren’t trans, they were able to offer a more nuanced look into the trans experience and what allyship can look like. They mentioned that one of the easiest ways for cis people to show support is to normalize asking for pronouns, because a certain set of looks does not equate gender identity. 

That being said, they emphasized the importance of using one’s correct pronouns when asked, and also believing them to be who they say they are. There is a difference between using the right pronouns because you “have” to and using them because you truly respect that person and see them the way they see themselves. 

They also mentioned how crucial it is to disrupt our narratives of internalized transphobia. This doesn’t include just fear, but also, as the Planned Parenthood website explains, “negative attitudes and beliefs, aversions to and prejudices against trans people,” ignorance, misunderstanding and, in extreme cases, bullying, abuse or violence. The only way to combat our transphobia is to name it for what it is, push back against the hate it ushers in, and create spaces where trans people feel seen, heard and known. 

My friend identifies as a Christian but also mentioned that they’re in the midst of processing a lot of grief and anger that has stemmed from their experiences with church. Their request is that we see trans people not as an aberration or a product of the fall, but as beautiful image bearers of the divine, whom God “knit together in the womb of their mothers.” Just because someone transitioned does not mean they reject the personhood God gave them, but are rather “living more fully into the identity God gave them.”

Even if it is hard to fully grasp or embrace transgender identities, it is crucial to accept people as they say they are and remember that being trans is just one part of a person’s existence. Trans people are writers, lawyers, moms, sisters, uncles, grandparents, singers and dreamers. They are here at Westmont, whether the administration recognizes them or not. They deserve love, freedom and protection by our legal system. 

That said, trans people, especially trans youth, are under attack, one such common obstacle being athletics. Legislators in Texas, Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Missouri and Utah are attempting to ban trans kids from sports and punish parents for seeking gender-affirming medical care, operating from a misinformed and fear-based mindset.

However, the governor of Utah notably opposed such a law that, if enacted in his state, would ban four trans kids from participating in sports, his reasoning being: “I want them to live.” He recognized the humanity of these young people and the reality that connection and relationships are the lifeblood of existence. Without them, people are more likely to isolate themselves and run a much higher risk of ending their lives. 

We need to value humanity over our own political agendas. In a talk with the organizers of Trans Week, an Instagram education platform, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, both professional athletes, weighed in on the involvement of women’s sports in this anti-trans fiasco.

Rapinoe asserted that “we need to push back against the narrative that caring about women’s sports is done by banning trans women.” Conservative lawmakers who have never before been concerned about equality in the sports world are using women’s sports as a “vehicle for fear” and tapping into the miseducation of the general populace. 

Bird emphasized the reality that it is okay not to know everything and to “not be afraid of Google.” The testosterone levels of trans women who compete in sports are equal to that of cis women, and there is a lot of work that goes into being an athlete that has nothing to do with one’s gender. 

With the goal of inclusion and education in mind, some ways to support the trans community here at Westmont are to advocate for single stall bathrooms around  campus to be made gender neutral — Reynolds Hall, the theater and the observatory — donate to organizations such as the Trevor project, and educate yourself, your friends and your family. As Bird urges us, let’s all operate from a starting point of inclusion and educate ourselves from there.

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Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.

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