The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Transpeople: The New Frontier of Acceptance

Our culture is vast and varied. Millions of people from varying backgrounds whose lives are intersected by the backgrounds of their families, spouses, friends, coworkers etc. in an infinitely expanding network of cultural and societal influences. As a nation, for the most part, we have come to be accepting of these cross-cultural relationships and unions only after years of demonstrated hate and prejudice. Today, we are attempting to shift ideals once again in the acceptance and better understanding of homosexuals and the inherent manner of their being. While the accomplishment of such a goal will certainly be another cultural milestone, and if we are able to obtain the same recognition as interracial marriages and the worth of minorities, there will be yet another group in need of acknowledgment: the Trans-community.

The Trans-community consists of Transgenders (those living as the opposite sex but without surgical alterations to the body), Transsexuals (those living as the opposite sex having had or desiring surgical alterations) and Transvestites (those who dress as the opposite sex and who may or may not have a homosexual orientation). These are perhaps the most controversial and most misunderstood offspring of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual community and are often put at even greater risk to their physical and mental well being than homosexuals alone.

At the root of society’s misperceptions about homosexuals and the Trans-community alike is the refusal of society to understand sex, gender and sexuality as being opposite, though integrated, concepts. Sex is that which is biological and is denoted as male and female. Gender is those roles or outward characteristics attributed to the sexes by society (for better or worse) and are called man and woman, masculine and feminine. Sexuality is the way in which attraction to another is expressed. When people step outside these ideals, blurring the lines so to speak, is when society begins to question their authenticity and judge them as deviant. The gender binary so deeply rooted in Western culture, with expectations of man and woman so strictly defined, makes it difficult, then, for those like homosexuals and transpeople to be accepted as true individuals with inherent, not chosen, inclinations toward what society deems as unacceptable or inappropriate behavior.

I have always believed that a lack of knowledge lies at the heart of everything we fear. When we are well educated about things that are unfamiliar to us, we begin to understand them on a deeper level and can come to accept them as truths. Clearly our society has a long way to go in its acceptance of those who stand outside the established norm, but perhaps we can begin taking small steps in the process by better educating ourselves about those whose lives we are putting at risk with our lack of tolerance. Whether you agree with a person’s lifestyle or not, whether you acknowledge it to be a legitimate result of their birth or condemn it as a poor choice, they are people nonetheless, most of them good and caring people, and therefore they deserve the same respect as a member of the human race as those you cherish. Martin Luther King Jr. called on us to love our enemies and to wish ill on no man. Perhaps that is exactly where we need to start.

--Heather Maupin


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