Over the past several years, I’ve heard a lot of arguments against people being transgender.
- “People are born either male or female, and they should stay that way.”
- “The Bible says it’s wrong so it must be.”
- “It’s a mental illness, and if those people got some help they’d be cured.”
- “It’s not natural.”
I could write a post about each of those arguments, addressing why they are incorrect and giving evidence to the contrary but I don’t want to waste my time or yours.
At the end of the day, what it comes down to is that the person making the argument had a dislike for transgender people – they just didn’t want to say so. They disguised their dislike in the form of a reason why people shouldn’t be transgender, based on some bit of evidence they had heard or read or someone had told them.
Here’s the thing though- just because you don’t like something, doesn’t make it false.
Every year, the calendar tells me that spring arrives on March, 21. Living in New Hampshire, actual spring doesn’t often arrive until late April. In early April, we still get snowstorms, even blizzards. Now my calendar says that it’s spring, so clearly we shouldn’t be getting snow anymore right? Wrong. I don’t like that snow comes in April, but it happens and I can’t change that.
Not liking something does not make it false.
Just because a person doesn’t like the idea of someone being transgender, doesn’t make them NOT be transgender. Just because a group of people, or a religious organization, or a political group doesn’t like the idea of transgender people, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
But it’s easier for someone to say, “There’s no such thing as transgender people, there are only males and females” than to say “You know, I just don’t like the idea of people being transgender, it makes me uncomfortable to be around them (or fill in whatever the reason here*).”
*Here’s a hint: sometimes it’s because they don’t understand what being transgender means.
Fear of the unknown and lack of understanding are generally (note that I said generally, not always) the reasons why people have a dislike for demographics other than their own.
The other reason has to do with tightly held core beliefs. In this great article from The Oatmeal, they write:
Inman, Matthew. “You are Not Going to Believe What I have to Tell you. The Oatmeal
“Core beliefs are the beliefs which people cherish the most deeply. They usually develop from childhood and are compounded by life experiences. Core beliefs are inflexible, rigid, and incredibly sensitive to being challenged.”
This is why some people have such a hard time accepting that people can be transgender or nonbinary or pansexual. It doesn’t align with what they believe deep down in their core. It goes against everything they have been taught to understand since they were young and they have their faith and their education and their traditions to support those beliefs.
Here’s the good news:
You can change your core beliefs. It just takes time and hard work.
In learning to accept transgender people, this could look like reading books about what it means to be transgender. Or perhaps talking to transgender people about what their experience has been like. A person could attend a PFLAG meeting and ask questions to help them have a better understanding. The Internet is full of useful articles and resources and right on the sidebar of my page, I have a resource that lists books, websites and other places to help someone get started.
If you or someone you know is looking to learn more about what it means to be transgender and has further questions, feel free to drop them in the comments. I’d be happy to help you get started.