After the LGBTQ panel came to our class last Friday, I knew that I wanted to further my understanding on gender issues within our culture. I viewed a TedTalk given by a woman named Geena Rocero. It’s called “Why I Must Come Out.” In the talk, Geena spoke about her life as a model and beauty pageant queen. She stated that she remembered looking at a blown up photograph of herself in a bikini and thinking “I have arrived.” Now this may come across as odd to see yourself in a bikini and think that, but to her it was everything. Geena Rocero was born with the gender assignment of “male.” But from a young age, Geena had always self identified as a girl. Geena loved things that most girls love to do: playing with her Barbie dolls and sewing clothes for them. “I always knew I felt something different,” she said. She was five years old the day she vividly remembers letting her mother know that the way the world perceived her—as a boy—was not how she felt inside. As she walked around with a T-shirt on her head, the cloth trailing behind her, she proclaimed: “This is my hair. I am a girl.” Her mother simply responded, “OK.” At age eight, she recalls watching a transgender beauty pageant in their town. In the Philippines, this was not an unusual event. The transgender community has a lengthy cultural history in the Phillippines. “I can be a woman, and I want to be that kind of woman—beautiful, confident, celebrated,” she remembers thinking while watching the women walk by.
Geena considered herself extremely lucky to have such supportive parents. Both her mother and father encouraged her to take hormones and go through the gender reassignment process to pursue her career as a model in the United States.
In the TedTalk, Geena touched on a couple of very important things: she says that “Gender has always been considered a fact. Immutable. But we now know its actually more fluid, complex and mysterious.” In the article: “Between the Gender Lines,” Katherine Wu states that: “Science tells us that gender is certainly not binary; it may not even be a linear spectrum. Like many other facets of identity, it can operate on a broad range of levels and operate outside of many definitions. And it also appears that gender may not be as static as we assume. At the forefront of this, transgender identity is complex – it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to attribute it to one neat, contained set of causes, and there is still much to be learned. But we know now that several of those causes are biological. These individuals are not suffering a mental illness, or capriciously “choosing” a different identity. The transgender identity is multi-dimensional – but it deserves no less recognition or respect than any other facet of humankind,” (Wu, pg 4).
My second article by the American Psychological Association reports that despite the “signs of more acceptance for transgender people, many studies show that they still face significant challenges. rejection of the transgender community is significantly harsher than the attitudes toward to LGB community. Transgender people usually have extremely high rates of suicide, self harm, anxiety, depression and drug and alcohol addictions. Most of this stems from the feeling like they can never fully and truly be themselves or accepted in to a community,” (pg 2).
As a community, we can do several things to empower the transgender and LGBTQ community. We can become an ally, respect the terminology a transgender person uses to describe their identity, be patient with a person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity, listen, and be inclusive.
Between the (Gender) Lines: the Science of Transgender … (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2016/gender-lines-science-transgender-identity/
Transgender youth at risk for depression, suicide. (2015, January 14). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/transgender-youth-at- risk-for-depression-suicide/