The most recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine had several articles in it that I skimmed, as I usually do: “Lorde’s Teenage Dream,” the age-old story about, as Drake would put it, “starting from the bottom” and “The Unbreakable Robin Quivers,” an inspiring tale of a breast cancer survivor.
Then I got to “About A Girl,” a story about Coy Mathis who at the age of two asked his mother, “When am I going to grow my girl parts?”
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t skim. I read every single word of that article.
Mathis’ story is an extremely moving one. From day one, Mathis knew she was in a body that was not meant for her. Her story is full of successes and achievements: She was given the right to use the women’s restroom at her school (though not without a fight), her family was and continues to be in full support of who she is and Mathis has begun to seamlessly fit in with her classmates.
What concerns me is what follows this phase.
Mathis is still only a 7-year-old. She has not hit puberty; she isn’t surrounded by judgmental preteens, and those who don’t know any better may still consider what she’s going through simply a “cute phase.”
Although the transgender community has more support now than ever, it still may not be nearly enough for transgender individuals to feel like they fit in in society.
You could argue the point that three recent TV shows feature transgender characters: Sophia Burset on “Orange Is The New Black,” Martha Hudson on “Elementary” and Unique Adams on “Glee.”
Let’s reflect. That’s three transgender characters out of hundreds in current popular culture — not exactly stellar levels of representation.
Consider some the challenges faced by the transgender community. According to the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, “44 percent of hate-motivated murders in 2010 were of transgendered women.”
The attempted suicide rate among the transgender community is 41 percent and the number of transgendered people who have been refused medical care because of how they do or don’t define themselves — and whether they will receive coverage for basic health care services — as is 19 percent.
This is not acceptable.
Can you imagine waking up each morning and feeling like you don’t even belong in your own body? And then going to school, or to work or even just to the grocery store, and being openly stared at, treated differently and on some occasions being taunted? And then, after a long day at the office or in the classroom, going home and dealing with legal issues regarding your choice of women’s restroom versus men’s restroom?
Believe what you want. Go ahead and think that the notion of someone “deciding” to be a different gender is ridiculous.
But no one gets to dictate the “choices” of someone else. No one should ever disagree with something so strongly that it causes the subject of the cruelty to try to end his or her own life.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @FreesiaDeNaples