The Bathroom Issue
Dear Cousin Butchie,
I am out to just about everyone at my all boys high school. I know that sounds like paradise to some guys, and I'm proud to say that I have experienced no problems or discrimination. I know that I am really lucky and fortunate and blessed. I have so many friends who respect me and the gay issue never comes up... except for some of the students who have come out to me.
I am now being asked questions about the transgender bathroom issue.
Honestly, I have had very little knowledge about transgender people and I even confused these people with transvestites!
I need to know what to tell my peeps when they bring up this situation which is being covered by the media almost daily.
Out & Proud
Hi, Out & Proud!
Your email is honest, and I think that everyone in the LGBT Community needs this kind of honesty.
You have also described your school situation as ideal. You must have very good friends, and it seems only logical that they would come to you asking questions about transgender people. Admitting that you don't know much about them and the "bathroom controversy" is a wise move right now because you aren't prepared. I have had some gay friends say some very stupid and ignorant things, and it's all based on ignorance.
I suggest that you Google the information you need. Many of us in the LGBT Community have totally ignored the "T" people among us. In fact, some had no idea at all what the "T" stands for.
When I was younger, a female cousin told me that she felt like a man trapped in a woman's body. At the time I guess I merely thought it was drama and a bid for attention. I apologize to her for that. In my case it was possible to "cure" stupidity.
Transgender people know how they feel. They often feel isolated and discriminated against. They often also receive deplorable treatment from gays and lesbians and straight people.
We have these people as our brothers and sisters in our community. As you said in your email, that your school friends give you respect. Respect is what we really lovingly owe to these transgender people. While ignorant people may look down upon them, most of us know that WE are still looked down upon by some similarly ignorant people.
The "bathroom issue" is very puzzling to me now. If a woman biologically and mentally feels that she is a man, so be it. Dressing as a man is something in this person's comfort zone, and no one should deny them this right. If you were in the men's room and someone walked in with jeans and a flannel shirt, would you be disturbed?
WE might also note that this issue isn't a "problem" which is going to impact on a high number of LGBT people.
It is difficult not to see that the "religious right" among Christians and Jews (some of them!) is crusading to make this a big issue and has dreamed up a number of scenarios which are not even logical. GIVEN THE FEELINGS OF THESE SAME PEOPLE... WE WOULD NEVER HAVE HAD FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WE WOULD NOT HAVE EVER COME TO THE VICTORY OF LEGALIZING SAME SEX MARRIAGE.
So... Out & Proud... Get the information you need, and make the effort to treat transgender people in the way you are treated in school-- and in the way that all people deserve.
Uncle RJ helped me understand by his logic and decency. However I didn't even try to understand until I was SURPRISED to learn that one of my teachers was a transgender person... and there have been others I have met. In a very real sense, they are often at the rejection level that we have all experienced in one way or another. YOUR LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING CAN LITERALLY SAVE LIVES.