Education is a privilege. It opens our mind to new avenues. My college experience offered me an experience that helped me confront an issue that is considered a taboo in our society.
I got the opportunity to interact with the mother of a transgender child. Kia’s (name changed) first words were on a girl.
“At an age when young kids play with cars, guns and G.I. Joes, she liked to play with Barbie dolls and wear skirts and high heels. She is today a happy, little six-year old girl, although she was born as a male,” I pen down the first few lines.
I was extremely hesitant through the interaction for fear of offending anybody’s sensibilities or sensitivities. But having crossed that initial barrier, the experience only offered more to learn.
“I discovered that my child was transgender between the age of eighteen months and two years,” Shannon, mother of the seven year old transgender child said. “My child never played with anything that would be considered a stereotypical male toy.”
Organizations such as the U.S. based Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), a national non-profit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters and over 500 affiliates in the United States, have been attempting to spread awareness on transgender individuals and the challenges they face.
“Part of the mission of PFLAF is to provide education and advocacy on transgender issues,” Kathryn Brown, Health Educator at Health & Wellness Education, Indiana University Health Center said.
In our society, gender issues have become more talked about in the media but people need to be prompted to talk about them.
“Recently transgender and gender variance issues have been touched upon in some popular television series and films,” Shivani Chowdhary, a dental student, said. “But they do not attribute the issue the dignity and the seriousness it deserves.”
There is a recognized need to spread awareness about transgender issues, Carol Fischer, Assistant, Indiana University Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Student Support Services said. The high rate of physical assault on transgender individuals demonstrates the fact.
Our society needs to confront the issue; by denying their rights, we are withholding from them the opportunity to live life according to their freewill.
Shannon’s family went through several stages, before realizing they had a transgender child, she said.“At first, we thought it was a phase that would go away,” Shannon said. “Once we realized that wasn’t going to happen, we tried to change the way she behaved, but that only led to anger and depression. We took to counseling and for over a year, our child was allowed to be herself at home, but in school she was still a boy.”
Gradually, however, the family was able to make the transition. Families have a difficult time providing the right support for their children. But I have a few questions for all champions of conventionalism and upholders of tradition- does any support exist for transgender individuals? Do we have a right to control and determine the life of another? Why can’t we accept an individual different from us as a part of society? Don’t they have a right to their happiness?
Today, Shannon’s daughter is a happy first-grade child, who understands that she is transgender.
“We have given her the vocabulary to understand that she has a female brain and a boy’s body,” Shannon said. “She understands that she is different and we have explained to her that we are all different. There are different nationalities, differences races and difference is not bad, difference just is.”
Bloomington, IN, USA