Think that the fight for our rights is over just because Caitlin Jenner has a docu-series on TV right now? That couldn’t be any farther from the truth. The reality is that we have to keep speaking up. While we admire Ms. Jenner’s boldness, the truth is that there are still thousands upon thousands of people that are still silently suffering. After all, not everyone has the money to go through facial reconstruction and body shaping to finally look the way on the outside that they feel on the inside. They feel female on the inside, but they can’t express that because surgery costs too much. Hormones are expensive. Things are super difficult for them, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll have the support of their family. Many transgendered teens are still threatened with eviction if their status were discovered by their parents.
Here are three key points that show we have a lot of work to do.
1. Lack of Counseling for Transgendered Teens
Counseling is still a major issue in terms of helping transpeople, especially transgendered teenagers. This is a very hectic and complicated time of life, because many relationships depend on the teen having a positive state of mind. The connections we make as teens can really open doors for us, but if you’re spending all of your time worrying about what others are thinking about you it’s hard to get anything done.
This isn’t a criticism of LGBT teens, of course. Given the threat of violence and even loss of privileges and benefits, it’s important to be aware of what people are saying. There have been some really tragic incidences of teens struggling in their own skin, with the final result being suicide or a life of drug abuse. This shouldn’t happen when we have so many mental health professionals that can step in.
It’s great that Ms. Jenner is surrounded by support from every direction, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us are so privileged.
2. Still Too Much Focus on Genitalia
What did people really want to know about Caitlin Jenner? Whether or not she still kept the penis she was born with. It’s been debunked and discussed endlessly, but we’ll keep it short and sweet: your genitalia doesn’t determine gender in the brain. It’s very possible to still have a penis and identify as female. It’s not the sex parts, but the mentality.
This hurts people that don’t have Jenner’s level of fame because the pressure is very good to under gender reassignment surgery. It’s very intense, and that means that a lot of recovery time is needed. It’s also a very painful experience. Do you have a job flexible enough to let you take off work for something like this? Or do you worry about being fired?
3. Shaky Employment Opportunities
Coming out as a completely different gender to your coworkers can have damaging effects on a career. That’s not the politically correct thing to say, but it’s still the reality that a lot of transpeople have to face. Coworkers are quick to put in their opinions, but these opinions seem to be protected more by human resources than the right to be who you want to be. Many people have had to resign as a result of coming out, something that is just not okay. But until we stop seeing one transperson as the key to unlocking all of the solutions to the problem, we won’t have any progress.
Do we admire Caitlin Jenner? Absolutely. Some of the comments online have been downright filthy. But the reality is that unless we really move forward in terms of making life fair and equal for our most vulnerable groups, we will never truly see the progress we claim to have made.