Transgendered individuals need universal support

Like foreigners in their own skin, transgendered people suffer from massive confusion, verbal and physical abuse, and struggles with acceptance. Many know about gay people, lesbians and bisexual people, but little is known about people who identify themselves as transgendered. “Transgender” is a term used to encompass people who do not identify well with the genders they were born as. Since not much is known about transgendered people, they lack certain rights and are often discriminated against. With education and more tolerance, more legal rights for these people should be made possible.So far, campuses nationwide have formed support groups for those who identify themselves as gay, transgendered or bisexual. Many schools, including TCU, have their very own Gay-Straight Alliance, which brings together all students to become aware of rights in regard to gender and sexual identity. This is important for schools because it teaches tolerance and understanding. The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network took an in-depth look at schools in every state and released what they found. The survey they conducted showed that the top three reasons for harassment at schools in Texas are appearance, sexual orientation (whether it be perceived or real) and expression of one’s gender (whether they act “girly” or “manly”). The last of the three has become a recurring problem for transgendered.

Sixty-three percent of students say they have seen someone get made fun of because of how he or she expresses his or her gender. Girls get made fun of for being too masculine, and boys get teased for being too feminine. Student organizations along with changes in school policies can allow for a more positive environment that accepts everyone.

Gender is really just an expression. It is a set of guidelines set by society, and it is not always true for everyone.

Most people associate women with skirts, but not all women wear skirts. “Manly” men are often portrayed with power tools, but there are some men who do not even own a drill. Unfortunately, everyone finds themselves measured up against these standards, and if they fall short, they fall prey to the wrath of society.

Fresno High School in Fresno, Calif., is taking a step in the right direction. One of its students, Cinthia Covarrubias, after being nominated by her fellow students, was able to run for prom king. The school added her name to the ballot because of a law made in the year 2000 that protected a youth’s right to express his or her gender identity at school that students brought to the school’s attention. The dance was held April 21. Although Covarrubias did not become Prom King, she still feels victorious.

She said, “I’m happy I actually made a difference about changing the law and the policy so you can run for your choice.”

Everyone needs support whether they have discovered they are transgendered, are dealing with bisexuality or just have problems connecting with the opposite sex if they are heterosexual. Policies should be inclusive to everyone no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. People should tolerate and terminate negative behaviors that turn the community into a harder place to live in. We should all be allies to each other.

Hayley Freeman is a freshman English major from Fort Worth. Her column appears Wednesdays.