Transgender Rights in the Words of Generation Z
Not long after a new legislation was passed in New York City that will allow a non binary gender option, “gender X” on birth certificates in the state of New York, the Trump administration has sent out yet another anti-LGBTQ+ warning. The new gender option for birth certificates in NY will allow transgender, intersex (etc.) people the possibility to write an X down as their gender rather then having to define themselves as male or female. This new act will be enabled on January 1, 2019 and is a major victory for non binary people. Seemingly in response to this legislation the Trump administration through the Department of Health and Human Services is considering defining gender as a biological, science oriented, non changeable characteristic to be determined only by your physical body at birth. Any change to the gender given on the birth certificate would only be allowed by genetic testing. This decision by the current administration would not only take away years of progress in the area of transgender rights, but also take away the legal identities of a large group of Americans.
Title IX, a program that protects people from sexual discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding assistance was signed into law by the president in 1972. This Title was created 46 years ago with the intention that all people would be included and not discriminated against because of their sex or sexual orientation has been enforced by the U.S. Department of Education’s office for Civil Rights (OCR). Now the president of the United States wants to revoke it by only allowing gender to be decided by biology rather then identity. The gender X option bill passed in New York City was an act of a new era, but now with the Trump administration’s plans it seems almost like we are being sent back into the stone age.
I spoke to five teenage students from different schools about this issue and they all agreed that what Trump is trying to do is inhumane and dehumanizing. Lucia Zadroga, a 17 year old student at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, offered an interesting metaphor: “Trump is treating human beings like chess pieces, like if they don’t fit into the squares on the board he captures them, and tries to dehumanize them more.”
In the 21st century our young community has morphed into a very open, empathetic, sympathetic and knowledgeable generation. Of the five people that I interviewed all five have transgender friends or a transgender neighbor. In fact, whether they realize it or not many people probably know or live near someone that is transgender or closeted based on the fact that at least 1.4 million adults in the United States identify as transgender, according to the UCLA school of law, the Williams institute.
I asked the same simple set of five questions to all five individuals and many of the answers came back the same. One of the questions I asked was: Why do you think people are against this issue or for it?
“Those that are for the proper integration of Transgender and non binary expression into society understand that all of society would benefit from this revolution in medicine, politics, and thought. With more open citizens, who aren’t suffering from dysphoria and the effects of closeting one’s identity, society would thrive. These citizens would engage with society in a healthier way where their expression of gender and sexuality isn’t something they can be punished for-in fact it wouldn’t be ANY authority’s place to comment on or discriminate against individuals because of theses factors,” said Elizabeth Price, a junior at Vassar college in Poughkeepsie.
On the other hand, Marisa Luft, a sophomore at the NYC iSchool, said: “The only thing I can think of why people are for Trump’s decision, is that they are afraid. They are afraid of people who are different and they are afraid they can’t do anything to change these people and make them like everyone else, so they support Trump’s decision thinking it will somehow justify their thoughts.”
It is really interesting to see how the young people that live and go to school in New York all have very strong opinions on this issue. I was recently at a college interview and I asked the interviewer why she had chosen to apply to that college as a high school senior, and the response was because the people there were so welcoming. She said that one of the first things that was asked of her, when stepping onto campus was what is your name? And what are your preferred pronouns?
Because today’s world is so focused on political correctness as well as welcoming all and every kind of human into our societies some schools have started to incorporate non-discriminatory bathroom policies or put up signs that say that anyone is allowed to use whichever bathroom matches with their gender identity. Unfortunately, there are many more schools that don’t respect student’s gender identities in this way and there are more ways in which our school systems could work to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome.
One way suggested by Lucie Blau, a junior at the United Nations International school is that students should be allowed to try out for any sports team, and try out for any part in a show. She said that we should try to make trans people (and others) feel like less of an “other” or outsider. “I think change should start in the classroom, as one of the primary places we are gendered and put into boxes early in life. On the most basic level we should introduce to all classrooms the tradition of introducing ourselves by name, age and also by the pronouns we would like to be represented by. Teachers as well should make a concerted effort to learn all their students pronouns,” said Elizabeth Price, a student nearing the end of her college career.
Elizabeth also brought up a great point that schools should dismantle gendered dress codes. She said that a dress code that heavily policies a woman’s body and masculinizes a boy’s body upholds traditional structures of gender and patriarchy that stifle expression and can have huge consequences on a child’s subconscious associations with clothing and gender.
In the end, people need to be more accepting of others and what they want to do with their own bodies. People do not need to love each other or have the same beliefs or values, but people should still accept the fact that everyone should be allowed to have different opinions and views of themselves. “I think the government should not be involved in this because they shouldn’t be able to tell someone how to live according to their ideals because they are not hurting anyone and it is their own lives,” said Matthew Reisacher, a senior at FSSA.
In my opinion, the Trump administration should reconsider this issue because no one should be given the right to take human rights away from someone just because they are different then other people are. If the plans of the Department of Health and Human Services go through so many more people than just the 1.4 million trans people in the United states will be hurt. If you put into perspective that there are the same amount of intersex people in the world as their are red headed people, then you can guess that a lot of people’s lives will be crushed because of one man’s decision. Fortunately, the young people of America are more sophisticated and accepting on this matter and I believe that Trump’s narrow minded opinions will not be tolerated. We should stand up for the rights of all people whoever they are.
– by Alice Baum, ’19