May 2018: ASSERTING TRANSGENDERISM AND AN UGLY HIDDEN REALITY

      In the imagining of an ideal, futuristic society, one essential socio-political goal that must be consistently realized is that of freedom from all barriers via a sound health curriculum. The bridging of social gaps as an ultimate solution should form the foundational basis of every peaceful and diverse community. Change must start with raising awareness in both traditional and innovative settings such as the classroom, homeschool, court of law, media, and evolving workplace. Most important,“alternative” as a lifestyle encompasses much more than the assertion of social equality for the economic classes, or the liberal, braggadocio customs that profess a purposeful openness. In fact, the resolution of one controversial subject in particular – transgender – would permanently revolutionize and transform the stagnant social standards of the middle ages into a conceivable, workable future filled with hopes, dreams, and the inspiration it takes to make a difference.

     At the intellectual level, however, society does not usually perceive transgenderism as a valid or popular political cause, and subsequently is suppressed from the public. The reason for this is that the world is not yet ready to face the ugly realities that so many healthy transgender people struggle against day to day. Therefore, the educational emphasis of any valued health curriculum plan should complement a genetically and ethnically diverse population. Exciting, non-didactic ways to explore gender at the elementary and higher levels include reviews of literature and historical figures, for example. Some good stories that highlight gender across the globe are: Looking Like Me, by Walter Dean Myers; Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan; Rickshaw Girl, by Mitali Perkins.

     For studies at the secondary level or beyond, instead of merely stressing the science of transgender DNA, another focus can be on well-known female figures from the past whose survival depended on cross-dressing. Mary Read, a pirate (1690 – 1721); a French maiden, Joan of Arc, who became a military soldier (1412 – 1431); a Spaniard, Catalina de Erauso, another military figure. The Italian artist Benvenuto Cellini was a Renaissance male who apparently cross-dressed on outings with friends, just for laughs. Historical figures are interesting because to comprehend the complexity of such role reversals, the student must fully grasp the oppressive social context within which these men and women struggled to overcome. Even today, the Christian maiden-warrior Joan of Arc is most remembered for her ardent dedication to Charles VII during the war between France and England. But the message should not be that warriors became saints for the battles that they waged, but because of a genuine love of all humanity. This will be the essential trait that would revolutionize the identity of the transgender individual and make him or her thrive. So, it is as much perspective  than content that determines the effectiveness of a curriculum plan.

     All the same, it is not enough that educators generate topics based on gender; rather, the homogeneous, gendered educational curriculum as it existed in the academic households of Renaissance Europe should continue to be reformed everywhere so that men and women may pursue their dream careers without ever running a risk of being permanently branded or typecast.

     At the psychological level, one much overlooked or unaccepted fact is that genetic factors are deeply interwoven with transgenderism, and often completely beyond the control of the transgender individual. Transgenderism can often exist as the very antithesis of a complicated, yet, chosen lifestyle. For many, transgenderism is anything but the well-crafted, re-fashioned self. It is often unplanned, unwanted, let alone simple. Nonetheless, even though transgender can be normal and healthy, it is easy to eschew the notion that raging hormones can rock the world of transgender children just as profoundly as they are known to affect mature adults.

     At the social level, where countries like India fully accept transgenders into a valid, functional class continue to pave the road to a futuristic society in sync with a new world order, others still deny the transgender individual a legal voice. But to catch up with societies that have progressively led the most liberal views on transgenderism, a call for change must soon be universally met. Awareness is part of the process as well as the solution.

* Flag by Jonathan Andrew, 1999