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Battling Transphobia

Emma Henry, '18, Staff Writer

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According to Gender Inclusive Schools, over 1.2 million students in United States public schools are openly transgender or gender nonconforming. Support for these students has always been a controversial topic, as it is difficult when their peers and teachers are not educated on the matter.

 

Beginning to learn how to better assist these students starts with a basic understanding of gender, preferably in comparison to sex. Gender is a personal identification, while sex is based on anatomy. Gender identification does not have to match up with your sex, expression, or sexuality. To put it simply, gender exists on a spectrum and is extremely complex. “Gender exists in your brain, not your body,” says Grayson Ray, sophomore, in his recent presentation regarding transphobia and transgender education.

 

Regardless of how well this concept is understood, all students should be guaranteed safety in their schools. Unfortunately, many transgender students feel unsupported by school communities. A recent and ongoing issue has been the use of certain bathrooms. Many worry about sexual assault or harassment if anti-discrimination laws are passed. “Sometimes the media can make trans people seem like sexual predators,” Ray added while discussing this issue, yet there has been no evidence to suggest an increase in these attacks since some states have ratified these laws.

 

Bullying and discrimination amongst peers is not uncommon when focusing on transgender students. GLSEN, an organization that assists with prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community in schools, states that “these students face extremely high levels of victimization, even more so than their non-transgender lesbian, gay, and bisexual peers.” Lowering these levels relies solely on education and awareness. Understanding the impact this behavior can have on people is important in moving forward to create a more accepting school environment. “Transphobia comes from not understanding,” Ray says, “if you don’t understand, it’s a lot harder to accept.”

Support comes from being strong allies, respecting preferred pronouns, and openly acting out against transphobia. Noticing harassment or the use of derogatory terms is important to guarantee safety and comfort for transgender or gender nonconforming students. Be aware of personal space and boundaries by refraining from invasive questions. “My body is my business,” Ray said, “…all humans deserve respect.”  Despite your beliefs, it is always important to educate yourself on the experiences of others. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask about pronouns and inform others. A well-informed community will create a safe and supportive environment for all students.

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Battling Transphobia