LGBTQ – Rainbow Continuum

Social Acceptance and Civil Rights of LGBT People

picture-058In the U.S., discrimination and bias against gay and transgender individuals is common. Here, non-binary (not male or female) gender identity (third or transgender) is not recognized.

After sex reassignment (sex-change) surgery has occurred, changing identity documents becomes a nightmare. States have different legal requirements for changes to driver licenses, social security ID and passports. Harassment and discrimination are common when a person’s gender doesn’t match on their various forms of identification.

Discrimination also occurs in medical care. Not all physicians are skilled in providing the specialized nonjudgmental care needed by non-heterosexual patients. Advancements in medical education are underway to broaden training in transgender care. The Affordable Care Act includes a nondiscrimination clause to protect against denial of coverage for LGBT people.

The United States lags our closest neighbor Canada in protecting the rights of all people. LGBT Canadians are protected by the Constitution of Canada and, under law, in all provinces. All individuals have the right to protection in areas open to the public. Businesses and schools are liable for anti-gay behavior, such as name calling and bullying by students or staff. Many countries around the world recognize and protect transgender people.

Some of the most basic transgender human needs are now in question with elevating fears and joint lawsuits against the government from states opposing transgender bathroom sharing. A letter from the Justice Department posted May 13, 2016, clarified Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs receiving federal funds. Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated there was no room for discrimination of any kind in our schools, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of sex.

Schools understand they must treat transgender students according to their chosen gender identity once the guardian or parent notifies them of a change in identity from the previous gender record. North Carolina first passed a discriminatory bathroom law setting off national debate. This is a civil rights matter.

Consider a transgender child, a 7-year-old born male, now trans-female with a female name, attending public school, dressed as a girl. Since age three, he identified as a girl and is accepted by his classmates, especially the girls. This child is not an exhibitionist who disrobes in the bathroom, nor is he a voyeur. He sees himself as a girl. He talks like a girl, acts like a girl, and is afraid to enter the boys’ bathroom dressed as a girl, not unlike adult transgender females living as their gender-identified sex.

Would men tolerate a transwoman using their inner sanctum? This is doubtful. Due to wide-spread prejudice and discrimination, she would likely be at risk for harassment and potential harm. Transwomen are beaten and killed by uneducated prejudiced men when they are forced to use the men’s room instead of the women’s bathroom, and when they come in contact socially. Today, the uproar over transgender bathroom designations has become political and fear mongering.

Some concerns relate to the perceived dangers of threatening male sexual perverts hanging out in female-designated bathrooms. If the goal is protecting children from adult males, children should never be left alone. Bathroom issues are about providing a safe environment for everyone, including transgender people, no matter what their age.

Thanks for following.

Betty Kuffel, MD

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