Transgender people have been indispensable to the advancement of the queer community in America since the fight for our rights began.
In 1966, the Tenderloin neighborhood had a 24-hour dining hall called Gene Compton’s Cafeteria. Despite it being a favorite of straight and queer folks alike, the staff members were deeply uncomfortable with the latter group’s presence.
They would call in the police to arrest all of the drag queens, trans women and gay hustlers in the vicinity for counts of “female impersonation” or “obstructing the sidewalk.”
Sex work, gambling and drug use were commonplace in Tenderloin, and yet queer people remained disproportionately abused by the police. One August morning, an officer tried to arrest the wrong drag queen, who threw a cup of coffee into his face and started a revolt.
Despite the three-year time jump and the geographical leap from the West Coast to the East, Compton’s and Stonewall still had something in common: they were led by trans women.
Up to this past September, the trans community is still not given the remembrance, reverence or even dignity we deserve, something that has been especially hard for trans children.
Rep. Stephanie Borowicz of Pennsylvania proposed the state’s own harsher version of Florida‘s “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” wherein the age restriction for sexual orientation and gender identity education was increased from the third grade to the fifth grade.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin put into place several heavily discriminatory “Model Policies” for his schools. They include mandatory parent-approved paperwork to change a child’s pronouns, ban trans children from using bathrooms that match their gender identities and allow teachers to deadname and misgender students if it goes against their “religious beliefs.”
Public school students in Baton Rouge, Louisiana were taken to a religious event where trans students were harassed by their peers with no adult intervention. Girls and trans boys were given a “girl talk” about forgiving their sexual assaulters. As for boys and trans girls, they were made to stand out in the extreme heat to receive the “real talk” about chauvinism and engaged in a push-up competition for money.
A school board candidate from Rockford, Michigan posted a picture of a progress pride flag manipulated into the shape of a swastika, reasoning that gender and sexuality lessons are indoctrinating children to the same degree as the old Nazi regime.
The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “The Tragedy of Transgender Surgery for Kids” that spread further misinformation about what medical transitioning looks like for our children. Trans kids are never put through gender affirmation surgery, they are given puberty blockers that delay the onset of adolescent growth and have easily reversible effects instead.
The message broadcasted by these national shortcomings sounds like a general hatred for the existence of trans and nonbinary children. It is bad enough that trans adults face harassment and systemic oppression everywhere, but to extend it to our youth is deplorable.
Many of the conservatives who were involved in last month’s events tend to hammer on and on with the excuse that kids are children who are just too innocent to be left at the mercy of tarnished gay people.
The average LGBTQ+ person knows their sexual orientation by the age of 12, while the average trans person starts feeling dysphoria by the age of seven. And yet somehow, these are not “age-appropriate” relevant discussions to be had in the classroom.
Well, they are just children. They should not be exposed to adults that do not take them seriously, who actively work to make them uncomfortable with their identity and nonexistent in their own country’s history.
What makes me mad is that this was me, my friends from my Catholic high school, the friends I’ve made here at Montclair State University and the strangers I’d met through Tumblr as I grew up.
Meanwhile, trans teens are seven-point-six times more likely to commit suicide than their cisgender peers out of sheer hopelessness.
It’s like what well-known TERF J.K. Rowling laid out in Harry Potter: if you take a magical child and force them to act non-magical, they’re just going to feel like freaks.