Feminism | Posted by Danielle C on 11/24/2009
When I read the news every morning, I don’t expect to read good things. If I read about a bombing in the Middle East or the murder of a gay teen in Puerto Rico I’m certainly upset about it, but it’s sad to say that I almost expect it. Our world is fueled by hate, and it always seems to have been. But this morning I came across an article that even I didn’t expect to encounter, and sadly it’s familiar to me, more familiar than it ever should be.
This study, Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Students in School carried out by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Network, is about transgendered youth in American high schools. Its contents are highly disturbing. For instance, this study found that two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed their gender (65%), and only 24% of the students said that the school policy included specific protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
When I read this, I fell into a state of shock. How could this even be allowed to happen? How can so many of these teenagers fear for their safety and their lives simply because they’re different from others? And yet even I’ve witnessed this firsthand, even though I live on the opposite side of the world-New Zealand.
When I was in primary school I knew one boy three years younger than me, and he was really feminine. He dressed in girl’s clothes, spoke like a girl, and referred to himself as a girl. He was new to the school that year, and yet from his first day he was tormented and alienated by his classmates; only eight and nine years old. He was bullied, beaten up and made fun of on a daily basis. In the end his parents moved him away because the bullying was becoming dangerous. I remember how upset he used to look when others were picking on him, and I also remember the guilt that I felt when I stood by and didn’t do anything. I still kick myself over that. I don’t know where he went, and I don’t know what he’s doing now. He’ll have almost finished his first year of high school this year. Are the statistics in my country the same as they are in the USA? Does he still feel unsafe at school? Is he still being bullied?
Is he still alive?
And sadly, for many transgendered teens all over the world, this question could well be answered with “no”.
Maybe one day people will look beyond looks and preferences and realize that deep down, we’re all the same. I hope that day comes soon, because there’s almost no time left for these teenagers. The clock is ticking.
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