Every November, the U.S.,as well as other countries, celebrate Transgender Awareness Month to increase understanding of the T (LGBTQ+) population. During this month, communities advocate for transgender rights such as legal protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in housing, employment, public accommodations and healthcare.
During this month, on November 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance recalls the transgender population who has been lost to violence. It is difficult to know exactly how many transgenders have died as some of the deaths are NOT reported to the police. Blacks and Latin-X individuals are disproportionately killed within the transgender community and the U.S. is third behind Brazil and Mexico for deaths of transgenders. On Transgender Day of Remembrance, a candle is lit and names of the deceased are read. Wikipedia has a list, grouped by decades 1980-2020s) of people killed for being transgender. Remember the movie with Hilary Swank Boys Don’t Cry, 1999, about the short-lived life of American transgender man Brandon Tina who was raped and later murdered with Phillip Devine, Lisa Lambert and Tom Nissen in Lincoln, Nebraska? During this week, you can expect rallies, marches, art shows, film screenings, lectures, panel discussions, and social gatherings.
What Exactly is A Transgender?
A transgender is one whose gender identity does not match the sex they were born with. They may identify as female, male, non-binary or gender non-conforming. They have gender dysphoria. They may be cross-dressers, but do not have to be nor is it required for them to have operations changing them from male-to-female (MTF) or female to male (FTM). Transgendered individuals have been around a long time. The star of Juno, a movie in 2007,Ellen Page, a Canadian actress, later came out as gay. From there, she became FTM, Elliot Page, in 2020. He became the author of PAGEBOY, New York Times #1 Bestseller.
How Many Trans Youth Are There?
In June of last year, the Williams Institute which researches LGBTQ+ policies at UCLA, reported that there were 1.6 million ages 13 + who identify as transgender. This figure had doubled from the previous year. More than 1/3 of transgender high school students attempt suicide in a given year according to The Harvard Law Review.
What IS Gender-Affirming Care?
Gender-affirming care refers to social affirmation, puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgical procedures according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Social affirmation refers to the adoption of a name, hairstyles, clothing, pronouns and restroom use that aligns with gender identity. Puberty blockers can stop menstruation. They are reversible. Trans boys receive testosterone and girls receive estrogen.
Should a parent withhold early treatment of his child? Is it unethical or harmful? The parent could be jailed if he lives in one of the 18 U.S. states that are considering bans on transgender health care for minors. The states that restrict gender-affirming care for minors (under eighteen) are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
More than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures in 2023. More than half of those, according to the Williams Institute targeted trans youth despite the endorsements from The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association. The American Medical Association says gender-affirming care is medically necessary according to ABC News, May 22, 2023. Otherwise, the youth can become depressed, suicidal. A study in The American Journal of Psychiatry published in 2020 stresses long-term mental health benefits of gender-affirming surgery for transgender individuals.
A school day can be hell for a transgender youth. Instead of calling him by his proper pronoun ( the one he identifies with even if it’s plural like they), the teacher will not “cave in” to the student’s identity. The transgender student is not allowed to use the restroom of his choice so he has to hold his bladder, he is not allowed to be in a locker room that corresponds to his gender identity and he cannot be on a team that his new found identity synchronizes with. No wonder there is a Transgender Awareness Month!
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.