“Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way
No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.” – Lady Gaga
I was born transgender. I was born a transgender baby. A boy with female sex organs. Unfortunately in 1962 and still today not much is known about being transgender. What we do know is that it is not something that you can catch or become at a later time. It’s something one is born with. The prevailing theory today is that it has to do with hormonal fluctuations while we’re developing in the womb that result in a mismatch between brain sex and physical sex. I’m not a scientist or a doctor so I don’t understand it completely but I understand enough to know that this is not something I can change and it isn’t my fault. It’s not a moral issue or a question of right and wrong. It’s similar to being born with any other abnormality like deafness, blindness, or Down syndrome. Most birth defects are easily detectable and, once detected can be corrected if possible or at least learned to live with. It affects the child for the rest of their lives if a cure doesn’t come around. Outsiders and family don’t judge the parents or the child for being born this way. They accept it and deal with it. But for a transgender child it isn’t so obvious and most often they are shamed and ridiculed for speaking up about how they feel wrong in their body. In 1962 it was not even a notion in anyone’s head that there could actually be a scientific reason for why I was so miserable being raised as a girl. I was simply labeled a “Tomboy” or told I was being a bad kid for fighting about wearing dresses and playing with dolls. I grew up rebellious, angry and confused.
But suppose for a minute that I was born in 2015 with the knowledge we have today of what it is to be transgender and I started acting the way I did in the early ’60s around my gender. Today it is possible that someone might consider my behavior a symptom of a bigger problem than just being rebellious or a Tomboy. It’s possible that I could have realized myself at a much younger age that I was transgender instead of mis-diagnosing myself for 30+ years as a lesbian.
It’s confusing, I know. Sex and gender are closely related. Sexuality and gender presentation are related. Who we’re attracted to sexually is related to gender expression in many ways. It’s a rare person who is gender blind or gender fluid. For so many years I thought I understood myself but I didn’t. The knowledge just wasn’t in my head yet to figure it all out. But now the knowledge and understanding is there, not just in my mind but in the world’s mind if they’ll only listen.
The truth is that transgenderism is a medical condition. It’s not something to be ashamed of or shunned because of. Religion has no right to judge it. No one has a right to judge it any more than they would judge a deaf child or a child with Down syndrome. The child didn’t choose to be born that way but there is a responsibility for society to help that child live and develop into the best person they can be. It’s no different for trans kids. Society has a responsibility to give them every possible option to live a full and happy life as their true authentic selves. This is not a question of morality or religious values.
The usual treatment plan for transgenderism includes allowing the child (or adult) to live as the gender that is right for them, hormone therapy, and correction of any physical attributes that cause them dysphoria or get in the way of them living as their true gender. If science suddenly came up for a cure for Down’s Syndrome don’t you think that most people would jump at the chance to get the medicine? It’s possible I’m speaking about something I shouldn’t here and if I am then I apologize but I chose Down’s as an example because the symptoms of it are both external and internal. In my hypothetical example the medicine would cure the internal aspect of the syndrome and surgeries may or may not be elected, determined by the patient, to change the physical symptoms. Being trans is similar in that there are both internal and external problems to solve. Hormones help with the internal part and surgeries align the physical body to the mind’s eye as much as possible. This is the only known cure at this time. Some people decide to live with it instead of going through the arduous task of changing their lives and bodies. That’s their choice to make and it doesn’t make them any less transgender. Even with the hormones and surgeries that I may opt to have I will always be transgender. There isn’t really a ‘cure’ that will make it go away but there certainly are viable options to make living with it a whole lot easier and nearly a non topic in one’s life unless i choose to address it regularly.
We need more education about what it is to be transgender and debunk the myths of this being a choice or a mental illness or a bizarre sexual fetish. Society is still in the dark to a huge degree and still misunderstand what it really is. Being transgender is not a reason to be shamed or ridiculed or shunned. It is not a reason to be beaten or raped or murdered and it is not a reason to end your life. There is so much to be hopeful about but also so much more work to be done. Every one of us who lives our lives and educates friends, family, co-workers and medical professionals is doing a part in paving the way for a brighter future for the young trans children of tomorrow.