Let's Talk About Transgendered Kids
What I really wanted to talk about today, is the T in LGBT. If any of you are avid news consumers (I avidly consume when I am workless at my internship because somehow it seems more professional than Facebook, which is blocked anyways), then you've probably seen or maybe even read about this beautiful little transgendered girl whose parents are fighting for her right to use the girls' bathroom at her school. If you haven't, let me recap. (Just a warning: this may get long.)
Coy Mathis is a 6-year-old transgendered girl (born and biologically male). Her parents say that as soon as she could walk or talk or express personal preference she was into girly things, which they just thought was her particular set of interests. However, they quickly started to realize that she actually seemed to think she was a girl, and instead of shaming her or suppressing her or telling her it was wrong and that no, she was a boy, they decided to roll with it and let her be as she pleased. Fast-forward a couple years, and the elementary school where she attends the 1st grade informs her parents that she will no longer be allowed to use the girls' bathroom, but rather may use the boys' or go all the way across the school to use the bathroom in the nurse's office. Her parents filed a discrimination suit, and it's sparking some big controversy.
I made the mistake of reading the comments sections on some of these articles and was horrified by what I saw - they're spattered with accusations of child abuse (especially for allowing her to have purple hair - which I should clarify that I looked into, and it's only temporary), blaming it on the parents for trying to turn their son into a daughter, and saying that the parents are trying to ruin this child's life and setting her up for bullying just to get a little bit of attention. What most struck my attention was how much of the discrimination and venom and pure hate being spewed at this poor child and her parents seemed to result directly from a total misunderstanding of the situation. So I decided that, in order to inform my readers and anyone else who may be interested, I would pick apart each of these many critiques here.
1 - "nobody knows their sexuality at that age" - please note that sexuality and gender identity are not the same thing. Sexuality is who we are attracted to - we have yet to know whether for Coy that is boys, girls, both, other transgendered people, animals, chairs, or all of the above - and gender identity is whether we feel like we are boys or girls, and what mannerisms we adopt and how we dress and behave. They are not related.
2 - "Why should all the other kids' rights be infringed upon for this one kid?" - I understand that opinions may differ on this, but I, for one, do not think the other kids' rights are being infringed upon (the primary concern is for the other little girls using the girls' bathroom that this little girl (who has a wiener!) is using). Girls' bathrooms, for anyone who may be unaware, have stalls. No one has to see that wiener unless the kid is flashing it about, and that can happen in and out of bathrooms. We can't segregate all children by biological sex just because one of them might see what's in the other's pants and probably have no idea what they're seeing anyways or its significance - but we can trust that the partition between stalls can lower the risk of that happening in the bathroom. The second conern is that, in 5 years or so, what, this kid is going to be showering after gym class with all the other girls in the girls' locker room?! What about then, huh? Hormones are raging, girls already know about penises, you can't subject them to that! - to which I say, what middle school still forces kids to take group showers? I know after gym at my middle and high school I just changed as quickly as possible and ran off to my next class. If I were being forced to stripped naked in front of a bunch of other kids at that ripe and impressionable young age, the other kids' bodies would be the last of my concern.
I would also make the argument that this girl will be at much higher risk for physical harm changing in the boys' locker room or using the boys' bathroom while for all other intents and purposes appearing to be a girl. Girls are mean with their words - boys are mean with their fists. And we only have to look at the statistics for transexual hate crimes and assaults to understand the risk this girl will be at her entire life.
3 - "nobody knows their gender identity at that age" - Actually, to the contrary, pretty much any transgendered person you'll ever meet will say they felt like they were in the wrong body as far back as they remember (all the way back to toddlerhood!). The reason transgendered kids are so rare is because usually society tries to shame them into the "appropriate" pre-defined identity that it has chosen for them, not that they have chosen for themselves.
4 - "no kid makes these decisions on their own - the parents are making her do it" - bullshit. This little girl seems like a happy, well-adjusted child, and it's most likely because rather than in spite of the leeway her parents give her regarding her gender identification. Maybe in 5 years she'll decide that actually, she is a boy - and her parents seem like the type that will wholeheartedly support tha too. I for one think it's wonderful that they are encouraging and open-minded, rather than shaming and trying to make her feel like the way she feels and is is wrong.
5 - "The parents are just giant attention-whores. They are sacrificing the well-being of their child just for some publicity." - The argument here seems to be that because this kid is now in the public eye, she's that much more likely to get negative attention from her peers, and be bullied, and ultimately be driven to suicide. Well, guess what? The statistics already show that just as a transgendered person, this kid is already at a shockingly high risk for suicide. If anything, I think that knowing she has a family that is willing to go great lengths to support and stand up for her, she will grow up more self-assured and less likely to commit suicide than the transgendered kid whose parents say, "Well, honey, maybe you should just conform to what society is trying to shove down your thrown and suppress your identity!"
6 - "THIS IS CHILD ABUSE. WHO DYES THEIR KID'S HAIR PURPLE?" Okay, first of all, why is everyone so hung up on this? Kids dye their hair all the time. Also, if you Google image Coy Mathis, her hair is generally blonde - the picture of her with purple hair is from some weird colorful-haired family portrait shoot her family did. And finally, SERIOUSLY?! How is feeding your kid McDonald's every day NOT considered child abuse but letting them dye their hair somehow IS?! It's not a tattoo, for Christ's sake! Even if it were permanent dye, it grows out!
Anyways, my apologies for the extra-long post today, guys. I am just really frustrated with the generally negative attitude this controversy seems to be receiving. I would love to hear your opinions! And do feel free to disagree, I promise I will respect your opinions and not hate on you or think you are a horrible person. But be warned - if you say anything extremely offensive, use profane insults, or attempt to insult or question anybody's character as opposed to their opinions, you will be MODERATED.