Thursday, September 3, 2015

When a Person Wants To Pee...They Just Want to Pee

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

There are many things a young identified man in high school may have on his mind. How to ask a girl out to a concert, money to cruise town with his friends, uniforms, and camping trips. Our identified females in high school  have their list too; make up, boys, shopping etc. I never once saw a scene in 'Ridgemont High', or 'The Breakfast Club', or even 'Mean Girls', where the teenagers biggest dilemma was how can they pee. Will they be allowed too urinate in a public bathroom, or will they be assaulted because their represented gender does not correspond with others in the room?

If you are not someone affected by this, this may seem humorous to you. You may accuse those speaking out as trouble makers, of nit picking the issue or something frivolous. I myself, trans, am often shocked, at how hard many seem to not understand this basic need to just pee. When you are trans this is no laughing matter. On the scale of Maslow's hierarchy of 'Basic Human Needs', excretion is a physiological need, which are among other physiological needs as the most basic of all human needs. Without them all the others are jeopardized. The needs of safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self actualization, are all compromised if physiological needs aren't met. This is what is happening to trans youth at a very pivotal moment in their development as 'self.'

I was asked by a cis person on my job only few weeks ago about the matter. They simply wanted to know, 'why wasn't this an issue ten, twenty, or more years ago. Why now?'. Ten years ago, there was only a quarter of trans visibility in the world than it is now. There were fewer youth that would dare come out to family out of fear of rejection and becoming homeless at age 12 or younger. Those who tried, the suicide rates of those days can tell you the story better than I can to what happens, statistically to open transgender youth. It is still an epidemic. Twenty years ago, you may have been beaten to death in school, which if you survived the beatings, you would remain scared for life. Many who were bullied suffered a life of mental illness, drug addiction, and low self-esteem. Before then many just dropped out of school and never received an education out of fear. When you know better...you do better, and that is where we are in society concerning trans youth today.

The medical community has come to realize gender dysphoria is treatable through hormone therapy and counseling. Tragically, to many parents have learned the devastating consequences of ignoring their trans child's cry for self actualization. Many states have learned from the past and have the wisdom not to let history repeat itself, by changing laws. Today, with parents and legal guardian consent, guidance, and love, many trans youth are free to seek medical help. After decades of seeing the results of no medical help for transgender youth, the medical community is opening more doors to help treat gender dysphoria in children. Consequently, laws must be adapted to assist these medically treated children and several states have begun to do so.  Ten states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon,Vermont and Washington) and the District of Columbia have laws specifically prohibiting gender identity discrimination in public schools and, in some cases, private schools that receive state funding. In these states, school officials may not harass, or allow others to harass, a student based on the student’s gender identity. In addition to those states,Maryland and North Carolina require that school districts have a policy against harassment and bullying based on a list of characteristics that includes gender identity.Increasingly, schools and school districts have also adopted policies protecting transgender students from discrimination, providing that transgender students be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms and participate in sports in accordance with their gender identity.

What happens to a  youth still faced with a leader in their school system, that out of their personal beliefs, defy the law? The TBGL community is all too familiar with personal attacks of individuals defying the law. In Kentucky, a petition is urging the removal of a county clerk, who even after court order to perform legal same-sex marriages, refuses to obey the law. In Orgeon, a young trans brother has written to TMP about similar attempts to hinder the law in his state of Oregon. Oregon law protects trans youth from harassment, discrimination and protects their right to use restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their presented gender identity. Yet, he is denied based on a school officials personal choice. Here is his letter.

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Hi,
I'm Leon and I would like to share my story. I live in Oregon and there are laws here protecting discrimination against transgenders using the bathroom of their choice. I told my school counselor about having my name changed on my paperwork since I came out during the summer. She asked me if I would still feel comfortable using the female's bathroom and I told her I'd feel better using the males. She looked disgusted at me for a moment and said "I cant have you using the males bathroom since you aren't actually a male, it would be awkward for the cis-males in the bathroom." So I told her about Oregon's laws about transgenders using the bathroom of their choice, and her response was "that's only for public places."

My school won't let me use the male bathroom because I'm "technically " not a male. But here it has a law saying I'm allowed to use the bathroom I identify as. They told me I don't look like a male so I'd make everyone uncomfortable. And using the female bathroom makes me uncomfortable.
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What is a society without laws. Why have any laws for that matter, if you can pick and choose which ones you will follow. During the pre-stonewall era, anyone found without at least one article of clothing on their body, pertaining to their assigned gender at birth, were arrested, beaten, and in the case of many trans women, raped by corrupt police officers. The cops were protected by the law of the day, which gave them the right to enforce by arresting individuals. Their other atrocities went unnoticed at the time. The anger it fueled within the TBGL communities lead to the street riots of 1969, known as Stonewall Riots. It was the spark that lit a fire in the TBGL Equal Rights movement, that had been lagging and progressing slowly for decades prior. One law after the next, over the past 40 years, have shaped our society we live in today. From the Jim Crow laws to Marriage Equality, these laws were placed to help society live in peace and without discrimination. Now many are feeling they have the right to deny these laws and out right ignore them. Where is the outrage for this behavior in America. A hundred years of Civil Rights Laws, can't and must not go ignored or abused. The law is the law...is it not?

If you are anyone you know, has suffered from discrimination, be it in your schools, employment, or housing. Know that there are several major organization we as community, can reach out too. Links below:
 Sylvia Law Project
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project

The Transgender Law Center

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

The Trans Youth Family Allies

The LGBTQ Taskforce

TransJustice The Audre Lorde Project





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