By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist–
It’s 2013 and just about everyone in the world knows about transgender people. Some may not fully understand who we are, but they do know now that we exist. Five years ago I would guess that less than 5 percent of the world knew about transgender people, let alone understand who we are. What’s it going to be like in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? I can’t say for sure, but I believe that most people will be more understanding and accepting of transgender people, though at the same time, there will probably be some people who will still have some resistance to accept and understand us.
Not long ago … no rights or protections
Things have changed immensely in the past 5 years. Five years ago transgender people had no rights or protection from discrimination. Currently there are now 16 states plus the District of Columbia that have laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people. In the 2013 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, 252 of the Fortune 500 companies offered transgender rights and medical coverage for their employees. Many churches are now opening up their arms to transgender constituents. Public accommodations, which are any places open to the public, across the land are also beginning to open up to us. More family members seem to be more accepting and understanding. Things are certainly a lot better than before but we still have a ways to go.
Jazz charms us
I was viewing a “20/20” clip from January where Barbara Walters was showing the world the life of a young transgender child named Jazz. This was actually a revisit, as Barbara and “20/20” had done a piece on Jazz 5 years ago. Jazz was 6-years-old then, she is now 11-years-old. Jazz has been living totally as female for the past 5 years, going to school, playing soccer and has a handful of girlfriends. Puberty is beginning to now hit and thoughts of boys are on her mind. Her parents completely support Jazz, and have given their consent to having her doctor administer anti-androgen medicine to her, which will put her physical male puberty on hold. Eventually she will need to take estrogen, the female hormone to feminize her body. Further on down the road she may have genital reconstruction surgery. That’s all fine and good for then, but what about now as she finds herself attracted to boys? She will want to date boys in a few years. What will happen?
Yes, the world is changing and many folks now are accepting of transgender people. Many people accept Jazz and love her for who she is, but what about the upcoming exploration of dating and love for her? As a transgender woman, I personally know that there are many people who would love to be with a transgender person, but they are held back by the fear of how others would view them. As a result many, people will not openly date or openly live with transgender people. It’s mostly all hush-hush. I wonder how this will affect Jazz with her future in dating.
Will love affect Jazz as it does us?
In the “20/20” piece, Jazz is filmed texting a prospective boyfriend. Jazz, with the advice of her Mom, decides to out herself as transgender to the boy. The boy doesn’t understand so Jazz gives him a link to her YouTube video which explains her situation. The boy views the video and texts back that he likes her no matter what. Awesome step for Jazz and the boy, but I wonder if he will openly admit to his friends that he likes her and if he will still want to date her in the future when the time comes. Will he be fearful of how others may view him?
In the next segment, Barbara Walters asks Jazz about her safety, if she has ever encountered anyone who was not nice to her. Jazz told her that she has seen many hurtful and hateful comments on her YouTube video from people who, as Jazz put it, “do not understand.” The camera briefly shows a few of the comments. One comment I saw read “Kill it.”
Jazz is a brave little girl.
So, as the transgender timeline unfolds, I wonder what will transpire. Eventually I’m sure that transgender people will be completely accepted into society, but until that time comes, unfortunately, I expect some resistance here and there.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has 3 grown children and works at 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.