Transgender inequality

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Transgender inequality is the unequal protection transgender people suffer in work, school, and society in general. Currently, transgender individuals are not protected in 33 states[where?] from being fired for being transgendered or not conforming to gender norms. Transgender people regularly face transphobic harassment. Ultimately, one of the largest reasons that transgender people face inequality is due to a lack of public understanding of what transgender truly means.[1]

Transgender and transgender inequality definitions[edit]

Common misconceptions[edit]

A common misconception is that a transgender person is therefore gay. However, being transgender involves gender identity and not sexual orientation. Another important misconception is that one who crossdresses is transgender; however, many crossdressers are comfortable with their assigned sex.[citation needed]

Being transgender does not mean having a mental disorder; it is not something that can be cured. In fact, many transgenders experience gender identity disorder, which is a disconnect between one's assigned sex at birth, and with which gender the person identifies.[2]

Transgender people’s history of inequality[edit]

In society[edit]

Transgendered people have been facing inequality and discrimination since before the 1800s. A lot of inequality has stemmed from what to call people who are transgendered.

Some Native American tribes had third gender roles including transgendered people. When Europeans came over they deemed them “berdaches” which was a derogatory term for a male trying to pass as a women or “passing women” which was a derogatory term for a women who tried to assume a masculine role.

The term "transvestite" originated in 1910 from the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld. At that time it was used in a similar fashion to transsexual, a word that not coined until the late 1940s. The "transgender" term was used in 1971[3]

People have previously been put in insane asylums for being transgendered and arrested.

The first public trials for transvestite behavior was Ernest Boulton (Stella) and Fred Park (Fanny) both arrested in 1870 for indecent behavior which was transvestite behavior.[3]

The first sex change operations were performed by Dr Felix Abraham: a mastectomy on a trans man in 1926

As a result of the laws of cross-dressing people who were transsexual sought out doctors would could change their gender to what they felt was natural for them.

The 1950s saw some of the first transgendered organizations and publications to help transgendered people with inequality issue they face along with day-to-day issues they encounter.

1966 Mtr. of Anonymous v. Weiner. This case pertained to a transsexual person who had undergone a sex reassignment surgery and wanted to change the name and sex on the birth certificate. The court ruled that the sex on a birth certificate could be change only if there was an error made recording it at birth so the sex remained unchanged on the birth certificate[4]

Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice.[5]

Transgender people that are going through divorces, inheritance battles or custody disputes are vulnerable to legal challenges because the validity of their marriages is called in to question since the laws out there are so inconsistent.[6]

Some states recognize a transgendered persons gender transition while some states do not so it makes the law very inconsistent

Laws vary from state to state concerning the requirements for changing gender markers on birth certificates and other identity documents. Laws also vary concerning whether a state will accept such identity documents as conclusive with respect to your gender identity

Recently[when?] a controversial bill will allow transgender students in public schools to participate in sex segregated programs and the facilities aligned with their self-perceived gender.[7]

At work[edit]

Transgender workers can have a difficult time coping with the traditional workplace due to established gender norms that limit the roles perceived and expected of them through the glass window of society. Among fellow employees, there can arise potential teasing and/or discrimination affecting the transgender worker on emotional levels. Employers at times retract job offers and opportunities because of discrimination towards workers of varying gender identities.

In 2012, Mia Macy, former police detective and veteran was denied a ballistics technician position at the federal ATF laboratory because of her transgender identity. After the matter was raised with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it was decided that transgender are protected from employee and employer discrimination through the Civil Rights Act. The event left her family house to foreclosure, but she was grateful for the final ruling.[8]

Furthermore in law regarding to transgender discrimination in the workplace, the Senate on November 7, 2013 gave final approval passing legislation actively outlawing private or public sector justification related to promotions, payment and hiring based on sexual orientation or gender identity.[9] This is to recognize a more fair field in the workplace noting credibility and achievements without being swayed from factors that not only fail to create direct relations to those aspects, but also ones that are vulnerable to prejudice from employees, employers and associates.

In school[edit]

Those that identify with transgender at an early age may have troubles when their identity conflicts with the judgment from traditional school protocol whether public or private. Discrimination may come from classmates that tease or physically harm transgender people as a result of transphobia. It’s because of incidents such as these that Transgender Day of Remembrance was created to respect and keep in memory gender non-conformists that have been killed through acts of prejudice. It is an annual event held on November 20 that is acknowledged internationally in schools, neighborhoods, churches, etc. Mental and physical strain through varying forms of assault brought upon from peers is an unfortunate possibility to openly transgendered students.

Even school staff are included in academia related parties that prefer repressing public displays of transgender action. For example, in November 2013, Jeydon Loredo was temporarily excluded from their La Feria Independent School District yearbook in Texas due to sporting a tuxedo that did not meet “community standards.” It was not until Loredo along with his mother took the case to the Human Rights Campaign, a group that stands for the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, that the school district reversed its decision allowing Loredo to wear his tuxedo for the yearly photograph and have it published into their high school yearbook pictures.[10]

In college[edit]

Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (78%), physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%); harassment was so severe that it led almost one-sixth (15%) to leave a school in K-12 settings or in higher education[11]

A lot of the scrutiny and discrimination transgender people face in college can be attributed to transgendered people having to choose what category they fall in within the public eye. Some examples of this are choosing what restroom to use. When task/groups are sex-segregated, having to decide what group to choose. Filling out paper work is also a challenge because even though they feel a certain gender places still may consider them another gender.

Transgender people still face inequality when applying to schools, a transgendered person applied to Smith College and was rejected because her home state still identifies her as male. The application fee was returned with a letter stating that “Smith is a womens college and applicants must be female at the time of application”[12]

In the university of North Carolina in Chappel Hill, they have tried to make gender neutral housing an option for students however that bill faces legislative opposition towards it and they gender neutral hosing project may not happen.[13]

At New Castle college a transgender student is campaigning to have gender neutral toilets. Which means anyone of any gender wont have to make a choice of which restroom to use.[14]

Trans people and unequal treatment in the LGBT community[edit]

Beginning in the 1990s, lesbian and gay activist organizations added transgender people to their cause because at that time transgender people faced many of the same prejudices. During this time the gay and lesbian community frequently referred to their organizations as defending the interests of and "serving the needs of all gay Americans." Due to this description many Americans associated the term transgender with being gay.[15] Some members of the LGBT community are uncomfortable with transgender individuals and their issues. In Kristin Schilt's, Just One of the Guys?, she interviews trans men who have encountered tokenism while working in LGBT organizations. In other words because LGBT communities include the T they need a transgender representative as a part of the organization. Schilt says that many transgender people encountered being the only one responsible for knowing anything about being transgender. When anyone within the LGBT organizations had questions about transgender issues they were always referred to the token transgender representative.[16] The unequal treatment of Transgender individuals can have to due with the fact that not all transgender individuals are gay. Schilt also concluded that some gay transgender people were treated poorly by cisgender gay individuals because they were thought to have made the choice to be gay. Therefore, the gay community's display of transphobia and heterosexism creates inequality.[17][18]

Gay rights advocate, John Aravosis said, “But when [the gay community is] asked — well, told — to put our civil rights on hold, possibly for the next two decades, until America catches up on its support for trans rights, a lot of gay people don’t feel sufficiently vested in trans rights, sufficiently vested in the T being affixed to the LGB, to agree to such a huge sacrifice for people they barely know.”[19]

Transgender people's legal rights in the United States[edit]

The U.S. Constitution protects transgender people from discrimination to an extend. It protects transgender people from being treated differently by the government because of fear or hostility. There is protection under many federal courts that says discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination, this helps transgender people have the same jurisdictions under the Equal Protection Clause that is provided to women. Also our First Amendment protects our freedom of expression, therefore protecting our rights to dress that is consistent with our gender identity. Dressing is a way of personal expression therefore it should be protected.

Although not nationally accepted there are a growing number of states that protect transgender students from harassment or discrimination in school. California has become to the first to pass a law that requires students in public schools to have access to sex-segregated areas, programs, and activities consistent with their gender identity.

There is currently no transgender discrimination against someone trying to change their name due to their gender identity. However if a transgender person wants a gender marker changed on their birth certificate they will have to provide proof of surgical treatment but still in some states this right will not be granted. With this being said, changing a birth marker on a birth certificate make it legal to have marriages in the same state. Therefore there is no protection with this discrimination in many states. A person can also change their gender marker on their Social Security card, and it does not require proof of surgical treatment.[20]

The LGBT community is legal nationwide in the United States since 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas). Recognition of same-sex unions in certain states (Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin) but is recognized by the federal government. Moving on to same-sex marriage, it is currently recognized by the federal government. However only legal in some states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia). Another right that is restricted by State is gay couples trying to adopt, however if you are a single gay person you may adopt. Next the United States have allowed gays to serve openly in the military since 2011. There currently is no federal anti-discrimination laws for LGBT but there is states 21 states that protect them and there is currently a bill passed in the U.S Senate that may protect them on a federal level. In the Matthew Shepard Act it, it expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime laws to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Currently the rights for the LGBT community are only limited to 21 states within America. However, with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that will make discriminating against LGBT people in the workplace illegal, passed in the U.S Senate the rights of the LGBT have taken a big step forward.

This is the first time in history where a transgender employment non-discrimination bill has passed in the Senate. Also this bill was passed with a bipartisan majority, and not just a Senate that is democratic. There will be a tough battle for ENDA in the Republican House, but whether or not it is passed, President Obama will be able to make a statement on LGBT discrimination in the United States. Finally ENDA will not pass unless there is no public mobilization, and it is up to the people to make the push to their politicians.[21]


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  2. ^ "Transgender FAQ". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 2013-11-19. 
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  12. ^ Garcia, Michelle (2013-03-20). "Women's College Returns Transgender Student's Application". Retrieved 2013-11-23. 
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  17. ^ GL vs. BT Jillian Todd Weiss Journal of Bisexuality Vol. 3, Iss. 3-4, 2003
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  20. ^ "Know Your Rights - Transgender People and the Law | American Civil Liberties Union". 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2013-11-23. 
  21. ^ "Five Things You Need to Know About the Employment Non-Discrimination Act | Politics News". Rolling Stone. 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2013-11-23.