Homecoming Queen? Why Not?

 HT_cassidy_lynn_breakdown_1_jt_130922_16x9t_384Last week a 16 year old transgender teen was crowned homecoming queen at a Huntington Beach High School? It should have been one of the happiest moments of young Cassidy’s life and for a brief moment in time all the years of anxiety, confusion, anger, depression and social pain were forgotten as she basked in the light of her accomplishment. Then the shit hit the fan. Just a few hours after experiencing what she referred to as her “ultimate joy” it turned to heartache and distress when a number of crude and hurtful comments about her and her victory were posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Of course this should come as no surprise to anyone. We all know our country is crawling with extremely judgmental, hateful, negative individuals. They’re everywhere. Ignorant people who condemn what they don’t understand. Some lashed out at Cassidy in angry bullying messages accusing her of stealing the crown from a “real” girl who truly deserved it. Others made comments about mental illness  and demanded that Cassidy should be identified by her birth gender. One person called her election is a charade that “Violates everything we know about gender sex, genetics, biology, and human health, and violates every known standard of decency and normality in America.”

Harsh words for a young transgender teen  who is fighting for acceptance as the gender she most strongly identifies with. Although born a boy Cassidy has long identified herself as a female and began hormone treatments 3 years ago. The people who made crude and bigoted remarks about her  simply don’t understand transgender issues or what trans people must endure. Being trans is not easy. People just don’t realize how difficult it is to go through life feeling  trapped in the wrong body. Their feelings are out of sync with the body they’ve been given. Many trans realize that what they are feeling is not socially acceptable and are afraid to come out, choosing instead to live as trans behind closed doors or only with very close friends. Others choose to hide their feelings so that they will be accepted by their peers. Others are in a state of denial. Those that do choose to come out are often subjected to ridicule, taunts, bullying or are shunned. Recent figures suggest that many teenage suicides are a result of some form of gender expression. It’s ugly out there.

I don’t believe anyone, trans included, should suffer at the hands of the ignorant because of who she or he is. Everyone has a right to live happy, full and productive lives.  Trans are people too. Social constraints be damned! I applaud young Cassidy and hope that things work out well for her in the future. I commend Marina High School’s message of equity, acceptance, tolerance and respect. Kudos to both students and staff for their forward thinking! Now if only we could only get this message out there and educate the masses!

I’m sure there are many who would disagree with me and that’s okay.  Whether you are among the incensed, outraged or disgusted or  among those who are understanding is a personal choice. We are all entitled to our own opinions. As a counselor I had the occasion to deal with two transgender students and I can tell you firsthand that these kids hurt. They have trouble understanding what they feel. They are afraid of their feelings, afraid of being bullied or taunted  because of their gender expression. These doubts and worries are strong and sometimes end badly. Statistics show that teen suicide is on the rise. Many who have taken their lives were transgenders who simply couldn’t deal with their plight or the taunts and bullying they were forced to endure. People have been tormented by others because of who they are or how they chose to live since the Stone Age. Perhaps the time has come to change that. We need to take the time to educate ourselves on such matters, learn what it means to be different and accept that it’s okay to be different.

Just a thought…

JS 

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