Imagine for a moment that the day you born your religion, political party affiliation, and occupation were chosen for you. It was official. You could not change what had been entered into those fields on your birth certificate. You were designated a Roman Catholic, Democrat, Farmer. Your destiny and life had been chosen. The government would only recognize what was entered on the birth certificate.
Your gender is no different. Once you have been registered with the government as either male or female, you are forever branded with certain rights, privileges, and stereotypes. In most cases, gender is of little consequence when it comes to pursuing your dreams, passions, and how you want to live your day-to-day life. That is, unless, you have been told you must conform to what is on your birth certificate.
Casting Off Birth Identities
Can you fathom if your politics, religion, and occupation were predetermined for you, at birth, without your consent? You would be groomed to only favor certain politicians and policies regardless of what your own inclination was. You would only be allowed into certain houses of worship because you were born a Roman Catholic. Other churches could deny you entry. If you tried to enter a different professional field, the manager would inform you that you could not become train engineer because you are designated to be a farmer.
None of this is new for women who have had to fight the stereotypes of their gender. They are told they cannot become church leaders or clerics and they could not become firefighters or engineers. The discrimination is sometimes subtle and sometimes codified into government code. For years in the United States women were told they were not smart enough to vote because of their gender.
Gender is everything and it is nothing. It is everything as defined by society and the government and nothing when you walk into your own home and close the door.
Transgender Right To Pursue Happiness
We are all transgender when it comes to breaking stereotypes. It was frowned upon for men to be nurses and women to be doctors. You were less of a man if your wife earned more money than you did. But some men are happier, and possibly better equipped, to stay at home, take care of household chores and look after the children, than their wives.
I recently met a young Uber driver who had totally changed her life. She had a serious weight issue and started going to the gym to lose the pounds. She liked it so much that she became a certified fitness instructor for many different activities from aerobics to yoga. She was driving Uber in order to earn extra money so she could open her own gym.
She transformed her life. Fortunately, her birth certificate did not sentence her to a particular occupation in life. Her gender was of no consequence, even though the stereotypes projected upon her as a child helped inculcate a life of inactivity and weight gain. She was genuinely happy with her new appearance and new life.
So why is it so hard for people to accept another person who is transgender and wishes to change their appearance to another gender stereotype if it makes them happy and productive? What is the harm to society? Why must the government institutionalize a birth gender relative to how a person will be treated for government employment or services?
The drive by the Trump administration to erase transgender protections in government policies, rules, and regulations is a mistake. It will do more harm than good. It will cost our society more than money than it saves.
If we truly believe, as a national creed, the second sentence of the declaration of independence that guides the development of our communities and government, then allowing a person to change their gender should be supported and protected.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The colonists loved the fact that they were no longer beholden to the religious faith of the crown or the family occupation and station they were born into. In America, you could cast off all the layers of stereotypes placed upon you by the British society. It was revolutionary. It was transformative.
How Has Your Identity Transformed?
In a certain sense we are all trans-something. We might be trans-politics, trans-religion, or trans-occupation. I’m not attempting to diminish the recognized gender dysphoria state of a person who was born one sex and identifies as the opposite, or, none of the above. I’m merely pointing out that we have all gone through transformations, sometimes quite profound, in our identities. But just as most of our neighbors, friends, and families give us the space to change our political party, religion or occupation, we should also grant the same tolerance to those who wish to change their gender.
This spirit of independence for better or worse is still ingrained in the United States. This independence needs to be extended to those people who feel they need to cast off the gender identity they were swaddled in at birth. Let’s allow those people to pursue their life and happiness. I am absolutely confident that our communities and country will be better for it.
Podcast of Gender Identity blog post
Casting Off Gender Identities, Affirming Transgender Rights
The argument that a person's prerogative to change their gender identity is similar to how we can easily change our political, occupational, or religious identity.