Why Are People Threatened By Transgender Individuals?

Why Are People Threatened By Transgender Individuals?


Leonard Zwelling


It does seem to be an issue that arose out of nowhere, but it isn’t. It’s been around for centuries, just never really dealt with in the political arena. The issue is that of transgender people. We’ll take the broad view and say transgender people are those whose gender does not match with their sex. Transgender people are not homosexual, by definition, but, of course, can be. This is different and it is also under attack. Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama just signed into law legislation that prevents these young people from seeking and receiving gender-affirming medical treatment. This is on top of similar legislation around the country where Republican state legislatures seek to narrow the focus of acceptable human gender identity at the precise time when that fluidity is finally being accepted by many. This is most unfortunate.

What is so interesting is that it is the Republicans, the party of libertarian values and individual freedom, that is leading the charge to deny people the very choices they need to make to align their birth sexual identities with their inner gender identities—their bodies with their minds.

What it really comes down to is that many in the country cannot accept people for who they feel that they are. I understand the concern about this transpiring in young people whose emotions may be volatile and whose identities are still being formed. (Please see op ed in Houston Chronicle on April 13 that illustrates the complexities faced by young people who consider themselves potentially transgender). But the gender affirming medical treatment is just that. It is to allow these people and their families the time to figure out how to best match their inner gender identities with their outer physical identities.

Sex is straight forward. The vast majority of people are either XY male or XX female at birth. That does not constitute the determinants of gender. Gender identity is often obvious. My two grandsons are boys all the way, showing no interest in anything suggesting female gender traits, BUT that is not everyone and either you accept that gender identity may be more fluid than sexual identity as determined by chromosomes or you don’t. But if you are in the latter camp, do you really have to create laws that damage those struggling to clarify who they are? I guess in Alabama, you do.

This has also given rise to yet another issue, the one of trans-women who wish to compete against XX women in world-class athletic competition. This is a real hard one, because women who transition after puberty clearly may have a physical advantage against their XX competition. What we may have to develop is a separate kind of competition for trans-women to compete against one another, because I really do understand the concern of those who find XY trans-women competing as women against XX women unfair.

These are difficult issues all. That gender appears to be far more fluid than a simple bimodal distribution creates issues that we may not be readily able to address. Yet, we must.

What I know for certain is that having that decision wrestled with by politicians instead of physicians and loving families is a terrible idea. The Alabama law will be challenged in court. So will similar laws arising all over the country in the Red states of America. But just because you don’t understand something or don’t accept it doesn’t make it untrue.

Trans-people are. Making the world a better place for them as well as for the rest of us ought to be the focus of politicians. Unfortunately, in Alabama, as in other Red states, this is not the case.

The real question is why do these politicians feel the need to step into matters beyond their comprehension? Oh, that’s right. It’s politics and there can be no doubt that the Republican agenda right now is one that panders to the worst inclinations of small-minded people. Of course, the same is true of the liberal Democrats who cannot see any value in many GOP ideas. Somehow, we need to get past all of this and have meaningful discussions about trans-gender rights as well as other matters of social significance like abortion.

These are very tricky problems with very complex solutions. To have them left to state legislatures or, worse, nine individuals in black robes is probably a poor strategy. I just don’t know a good one short of leaving this to patients and doctors and leaving politicians and judges out of it.

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