This week’s issue of The New Yorker includes a feature by Margaret Talbot, on the rise of young kids and teenagers identifying as transgender. While the concept of transgender isn’t new, there’s a trend emerging; kids as young as three are identifying as trans. Depending on the openness and support of their parents, many of these kids are begin to transition before they even reach puberty.
Talbot’s article opens with the story of Skylar, an attractive and popular teenage boy who just happens to have been born a biological female. Skylar was open with his parents from the beginning about feeling like he was born in the wrong body, and thankfully, they supported his decision to live happily and healthfully as a boy. Still in high school, he got “top” surgery to remove his breasts, but doesn’t plan on getting bottom surgery. What’s more, his identifying as trans wasn’t some desperate desire to make his gender match up with a heteronormative sexuality: Skylar now identifies as a gay man.
“The whole sexuality thing never seemed like a big deal.” he says. “I never came out to anybody as gay. Sometimes I forget that coming out in terms of sexuality is a big deal.”
Skylar is lucky: again, his parents are supportive, and he happens to live in a liberal suburb of New Haven, Connecticut, where his school and friends were, if not enthusiastically supportive, at least respectful of his choice. Many, many, many transgender kids are not so lucky, and we’d be remiss to ignore their reality — one study reports that 41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide at some point.
After six years of competitive MMA (mixed martial arts) fighting as a woman, Fallon Fox has come out of the closet — against her wishes — as trans.
In an interview with OutSports on Tuesday, Fox explained how she was born into a male body, but never felt right. Ten years ago, she told her parents that she felt like she was born inside the wrong body. Her father pressured her into seeing a so-called “gay conversion therapist,” who insisted that Fallon was a gay man who was just confused. Fallon’s mother rejected her entirely; in the past two years, she hasn’t spoken to either parent.
But Fallon knew in her heart what her identity is: Fox began hormone therapy 10 years ago — after dropping the anti-gay therapy — and got gender reassignment surgery six years ago. She even has a driver’s license identifying her as a female. After her surgery, she took up MMA fighting. She praised the support of those close to her for their support. Keep reading »
You hear a lot of crappy things about fraternities–often deservedly so–so it’s nice to have a positive story come out of frat-land. Members of the Phi Alpha Tau chapter at Emerson College have raised funds so that one of their pledges can get top surgery. Sophomore Visual & Media Arts student Donnie Collins came out as transgender in high school, and pledged to the frat earlier this year. Collins attended an all-female boarding school and lamented that while his fellow students were all very nice, “it was all horrible.”
Collins doesn’t have any insurance support for his hormonal therapy or sexual reassignment surgery–and Emerson’s health insurance excludes such therapies. So far, he’s been paying out of pocket, and trans hormone therapies are not cheap. “I’d go to the endocrinologist and pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket, because, of course, I didn’t have insurance of my own,” he said. Keep reading »
Over the weekend, the UK’s Observer published an editorial about transgender people that crossed a bunch of lines. It’s not really worth repeating the things that the author wrote, but they included the sort of slurs that, if used against, say, black people or women, would make your eyes pop out. The Observer has since removed it, but it was full of “N-word” level stuff, with an editorial tone dripping with self-righteous, “if you don’t want to be called these things, stop being the way you are” privilege.
It was gross, in other words. I tweeted about it throughout the day on Sunday, when it ran, as I learned more about the author or different things occurred to me. Most of the rest of my tweets from that day were about football, which meant that I got some confused replies from people who follow me because they like when I make fun of Matt Schaub. I’m not transgender, and I don’t have any close friends or family who are, so why was I treating that editorial like it was personal? I am a dude who is straight and cisgender (that is, someone whose gender identity matches their biology) and who seems to have no stake in this fight.
Here’s why I take transgender issues personally… Keep reading »
It’s a sad statement on society when we have to issue advertising campaigns to remind people to treat their fellow human beings “with courtesy and respect.” But whatever, I’m not going to complain! This rad ad campaign by the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights is the first-ever campaign to focus on treating trans folks with the same dignity and humanity that everyone deserves. There’s a bunch of other ads with trans men and women sharing the so-totally-normal-they’re-practically-boring stuff they like to do, like “listening to Adele” and “playing basketball.” Other human beings — they’re just like us! [ColorLines]