Transgendered people deserve our acceptance
A TRANSGENDERED person is someone who either believes that he or she is a member of the opposite sex or underwent surgery to change his or her sexual appearance. Though this might not be something that people would consider normal, transgenders are still people. Discrimination, or otherwise refusing to acknowledge the fact that transgendered people are still humans like the rest of us, should be unacceptable in today's society. Laws should be created to protect and recognize transgendered people as equal to those already classified as male or female because discrimination toward those who show diversity should not be tolerated in our society.
According to Ruth Hubbard, author of "Rethinking Women's Biology," "one isn't born a woman (or man), one becomes one." This might be true, but I feel that no matter what gender a person is, everyone should be considered equal under the law. I believe a person is born gay or lesbian. People who do not know them should not judge them. They cannot help being who they are, and therefore should not be punished for it.
WE'VE HAD two general classifications of gender since the beginning of mankind, but there are always gray areas. Lesbians, gays and transgendered people are examples of those gray areas. Even with these classifications, there are many people who do not fit the exact mold of males and females. In "Which Outlaws?" Kate Bornstein describes the biological definition of males and females in a way that scientists view them. She says a woman is a person who has an XX chromosome, is able to bear children and produces estrogen. A male is described as someone who has an XY chromosome, is able to father children and produces testosterone. Bornstein asks, however, about the women who are not able to carry a child, the men who cannot produce the sperm required to procreate or the people who are born with an extra chromosome. They might be socially accepted as either a man or a woman, but scientifically they do not fit into the mold of either male or female.
I AM NOT saying that we should consider these people outcast in any way, but we should think about the people we consider inferior. If we are able to accept these people, ones who do not fit the exact description of society's genders, why is it so hard to accept transgendered people? Diversity and difference do not make a person any less human. We should recognize these people as our equals and accept who they are -- man, woman, gay, lesbian or transgendered -- because it is the only way we can get rid of prejudice.
In American society, we want transgendered people to remain silent and afraid to speak out because we do not want to deal with them. People tend to judge those whom they are unfamiliar with because they do not want to take the time to understand someone who is different.
It is sad to say and even worse to see, but Americans are not as civilized and accepting as we would like to think. Creating laws saying that the transgendered are equally protected under Hawaii law is the first step toward the acceptance and openmindedness they deserve. There will, of course, be those who do not want to accept transgenders as their equals because they are unfamiliar with them.
I BELIEVE the issue of equal protection and recognition under law will be a problem that transgendered people will have to face for a long time. Change is gradual. Generations go by and new ideas and thoughts are formed. If we did not accept change, society would fall apart. Accepting transgenders is just one of the transitions that society will have to face eventually. I believe that in the distant future there will be more than two gender classifications. That change, however, must wait until people are willing to recognize and respect transgenders as humans.
Daralyn Yakabe is a freshman at the University of Hawaii, studying elementary education.
Join the Student Union
Student Union is a forum for Hawaii's teenagers to tell the community what's on their minds and in their hearts. It appears every Thursday. We welcome opinions of no more than 700 words on any topic. Please include your name, address and phone number. E-mail to email@example.com, fax to 529-4750 or mail to Student Union, Editorial Page, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813. For more information, contact Jeff Finney at 529-4735 or firstname.lastname@example.org