Recently some questions were asked. Some of these questions were:
A common theme is that if everyone were stealth, then Trans rights would never progress.
Do you agree?
What are examples of Trans rights? Are they special rights for people born Trans?
What does stealth look like to you?
Is stealth possible in 2014 for an adult transitioner?
I did not attempt to answer all of those, just the ones that most interested me. My answer is below.
Trans rights are confirmation of rights that should be accorded to trans people but often are not. As I have explained elsewhere, as explained to me by a lawyer, in the United States, unless a law explicitly covers a group, then that group is not protected.
Case in point – ENDA. Over 80% of Americans believe that discriminating on the basis of gender identity is already illegal because discriminating based on sex is illegal. But it’s not illegal because it doesn’t work that way. So firing you because you are trans is completely legal today in most states because we are not explicitly protected.
Another case in point – Rick Perry, when he found out that a transwoman could remain in her existing marriage, that a transwoman could also with identifying documents marry a man, got a bit upset. He said he thought a transwoman shouldn’t be allowed to marry anyone. And he and Greg Abbott, the Texas state attorney general, have been hoping for a legal ruling in the Nikki Arraguz Lloyd case that would support them doing exactly that. Unfortunately for them, the appeals court just ruled completely in Nikki’s favor. I expect the Texas Supreme Court to overturn that ruling, thus forcing the question to the SCOTUS since, at its core, it is a 14th amendment issue.
Likewise, trans people can be denied housing because the existing laws do not explicitly rule out such discrimination. Same for medical services. Because they are trans. And because of these completely unfair forms of discrimination, trans people fall into poverty four times as often as the general population. Trans people have suicide attempt rates of 41% versus 1.5% for the general population. And study after study shows this is not because trans people are trans but because of the social distress caused by this sort of discrimination and poor treatment.
There is a reason the AMA considers this a medical condition. There is a reason the AMA supports insurance coverage for trans health care. And no, it’s not due to any sort of political correctness. It’s due to the science. It’s due to science that confirms that transition, as a treatment for those with severe GID is the most effective treatment available. Trans haters like to point to post transition suicide attempt rates of 4.5% – 200% higher than the general population. But they don’t want to mention pre-transition 41% suicide attempt rates. As one psychiatrist said, when you can reduce suicide attempts by 90%, that’s a good treatment.
Let’s circle back to trans rights. Trans rights are human rights. They are explicit laws that formally codify that trans people should not be discriminated against just because of an accident of birth, just like discrimination based on sex,
Then you have the “religious freedom” nonsense. Those people want to codify their “right” to discriminate against you as trans using the excuse of their religious beliefs.
So there are legitimate issues and reasons to fight for what we call trans rights. How do we do that?
Let’s look at other civil rights movements. Blacks began to make progress when they stopped waiting for whites to eventually “come around” and instead became active and visible. Part of that visibility came via major media. For example, as Martin Luther King noted, Nichelle Nichols, in Star Trek, was one of the first positive black role models on television. He even convinced her to stick with the show and the role, both because he liked her work as an actress and because he wanted to convey to her the importance of being visible to other black youth. Black visibility led to changes.
Likewise, we began to finally see significant changes in public attitudes towards GLB people when those people began to be more visible, especially in entertainment media, and not cast as sociopaths, criminals, addicts, etc. Gay celebrities, athletes, newscasters… all these things began to shift the public opinion to where today, those supporting gay rights now are in the majority. And the younger generations are overwhelmingly in favor of gay rights, again, at least in part, because of positive visibility and role models.
That brings us to the visibility question about trans folk. Some people argue everyone should be visible. I disagree. It’s a highly personal decision that must be weighed by each individual, their own mental health taken into consideration, as well as an honest evaluation of the likely pressures associated with trying to be a positive public role model. So no, not everyone should be “out and proud”. It’s stressful because trans rights are still widely ignored, because the haters are very real, because violence and discrimination against trans people can happen quite often, particularly if you are a public trans figure. An acquaintance recently made the choice to retreat from public visibility to some degree. That’s exactly why this needs to be a personal choice and why I disagree with the “everyone out and proud” assumptions.
Yet at the same time it is important to note that somebody needs to step up and become that public face. Sometimes it happens accidentally. Sometimes deliberately. But we need those positive trans role models so society can get past its hangups about trans people. No, not everyone needs to do this but we do need visibility. And everyone can help, even if they are stealth, by donating to trans organizations. No, it doesn’t have to be a lobbying organization or a politically active organization. You can donate to shelters for trans folk, particularly for trans youth. Donating doesn’t out you. It just says you’re a supporter and you can donate anonymously too. Often your local trans support group can accept donations. That’s one way to help right there.
In the end, progress has to be pushed. I do not believe progress just happens, all by itself. Neither did Martin Luther King.