On August 15 of last year, the Texas House decided to kill a perspective bill designed to ban transgender people from using the bathroom of their choosing and instead forcing them to use the bathroom for their biological gender (Dallas News). This, along with a plethora of other issues, has led to a very heated yet misunderstood debate regarding not only what bathroom to use but the very definition of what it means to be a man or a woman… or whatever else. The American public is outright confused, and most times contradicts itself; adding the fact that the topic is connected to a whole host of other topics that are deeply personal (i.e. science, religion, identity etc.) and one is left with a problem that which no solution seems opportune. When I asked this question of how to resolve this conflict of ideals to myself, I knew that in all honesty I could not… but I could help America answer it for itself: for there has to be some semblance of a societal consensus when it comes to gender in order to enact long-term and meaningful cohesion.
The idea of gender fluidity and transgenderism is not a new one and can be traced back as far as the Native Americans millennia ago calling people “two-spirit” meaning they embodied both a male spirit and a female one. But it has been in the last 10 or so years that a dramatic uptick in the number of affected people has come to light; it has been reported that in the last 6 years alone the amount of kids being counseled or treated for issues with their gender has increased tenfold with some of the patients as young as 3 (Independent). This also corresponds with the fact that almost 1/6 of all millennials do not identify with their biological gender (GLAAD). The sharp incline in numbers have basically forced the American public and policy makers to face the issue head-on, with little to no experience with the topic at hand and with haste as the numbers show no signs of decreasing anytime soon. The policy of the White House under Obama, the first president to really face the issue, was that of protection of transgender rights outlined by Title IX; this was a very loose interpretation of the law which many took offense to but none more so than the Republicans as the very idea of changing genders and a gender spectrum went against their conservative ideals. So, when Trump became president, one of the first things he did was repeal the protection of trans people choosing which bathroom to go to and forcing them to go to the one their biological gender matched (CNN); quite ironic as that’s pretty much the exact same legislation that Texas, a highly conservative state, could not pass. But while Washington’s view was split across party lines, the general public was not which makes things even more confusing. A recent study found that, of the participants who did not recuse themselves, 65% agreed with the sentiment that being transgender is a choice (YouGov) and yet in another study it was found that 60% of Americans believe that considering oneself a man of a woman is due to their biological gender (Pew). These two researches seem to contradict one another, for how can one choose their gender if biology does it for them, but that just goes to show the sheer complexity of the issue and the misunderstanding on the part of the public.
This situation leaves us with a split Washington and a confused public; neither of which help to resolve the problem at hand. It stands to reason that since both the Democratic stance of pro-trans (a generalization) and the Republican stance of anti-trans (again a generalization) have been met with negative responses by the American public that a strict policy of neutrality should be enacted until a societal and cultural agreement can be arranged. Politicians understand that in order to win votes or pass legislation they have to win over hearts and minds, but what they also must understand is what to do when the heart and the mind disagree; and that is to abide by neither. For we are a republic built on the principle “of the people, by the people and for the people” and our current politics should reflect as such. The burden then falls upon America herself to decide what her position is on the matter and while it certainly will not be one with which all would agree it must be one that all can agree to support for the betterment of this country and all for which it stands.
The fact that there isn’t a societal or political consensus of gender, at least for the last 5-10 years, speaks not only to the rapid nature of the growth in numbers of trans people but also to the fact that it goes against traditional notions of what it means to be a human in the first place. One’s gender, be it male or female, has had a profound impact on the self and how one identifies themselves with society and the world at-large throughout human history but that seems to not be the case anymore. Yet it is not just gender, however, that has taken a backseat to freedom of expression and will; race as well has been taken into question as we are already seeing cases of transracial persons dominating news headlines which leads one to ponder where the future will lead. Transreligous? Maybe even one day transspecies? I certainly cannot fathom the infinite possibilities of the future, but this issue of transgenderism is an insightful look into societal evolution, if not human evolution, which none should shy away from. For it matters not if the transcending of gender is predicated on progress or madness there is a kernel of truth about ourselves hiding somewhere deep inside… if only one has the courage to look.
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