Trans people deserve more respect

Published by adviser, Author: The Rocket Staff, Date: February 4, 2016
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Gender isn’t something most of us have to think about.  More often than not, biological sex and gender identity are a package deal, keeping most of us content with the X or Y we received at conception and the category we were placed in at birth.  But this isn’t always the case. An increasingly visible group within society feels as if nature made a mistake, and sex and gender identity don’t align.  Oftentimes, these people are forced to live a painful lie or face discrimination and hate for simply acting themselves.
As journalists, we are accustomed to asking others how they feel, not dictating how they should feel.  This is why The Rocket staff believes more should be done to promote transgender acceptance across campus and throughout the world.
The first step is to acknowledge that sex is a measurable thing, but gender isn’t.  Sex is your anatomical alignment, but gender is how you feel.  For this reason, we should address individuals based on how they feel instead of how they appear.
Many transgender individuals dread the first day of class, as their professors discover a name on the roster that doesn’t fit the individual in front of them.  Many, if not most, professors will gladly call a student by their preferred name, but self-disclosure to someone you don’t know can be an uncomfortable experience.  Therefore, Slippery Rock University should have a system to allow transgender individuals to identify as their chosen names throughout SRU’s system, alleviating that first awkward encounter many trans students have with their professors.
Of course, we should also respect the pronouns a student chooses to use.  Someone who was born female, but identifies as male, is correctly called “he.”  Likewise, transwomen, though biologically male, should be called “she.”  If someone’s gender or pronoun preference are unclear, simply say “they” until you have the information to make a more accurate description.  Sometimes, “they” will be the most accurate pronoun, as some believe that gender is a social construct and some choose to exist outside of this idea.  Some sway back and forth between “he” and “she” and some identify as both at once.
We acknowledge that this distinction may seem confusing to some, but understanding the issue isn’t nearly as important as a willingness to learn about it.  When it comes to pronoun use, when in doubt, just politely ask.
Genuine respect for identity goes further than language, though.  If an institution embraces the way students choose to describe themselves, yet prohibits them from grouping themselves with others who describe themselves the same way, that is blatant disrespect.  For this reason, Slippery Rock University should use gender, not sex, as a means of grouping people.  If a transwoman feels more comfortable using the women’s restroom, there should be no issue.  Likewise, students should be permitted to live with a member of the gender they identify with in all university housing.  Fraternities and sororities should embrace anyone who wishes to join their organization.  Even sports teams should not be segregated based on sex.  After all, the purpose of sports is to have a good time, something everyone is capable of.
Respect means providing equal care as well.  Financial stress is common among students of every demographic, but it can be an even greater concern for students who are transgender.  Many trans students who have chosen to transition into the sex they feel they are juggle the costs of tuition, books, housing, food and something most of us take for granted, hormones.
Hormone replacement is often necessary for the students’ emotional well-being and, once it has started, stopping can have significant medical consequences as well.  For this reason, the Health Center on all campuses should be able to provide hormone supplements to trans students who have started hormone replacement, but, due to their financial situation, cannot continue it.
Transgender issues have just come under the spotlight in recent years, but now that these individuals have recognition, it’s important that respect for them comes as well.

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