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Thompson

Kate Thompson
College Writing II
Heidi Frame
11 December, 2013
Survival and Safety:
Is Trans* Inclusive Legislation Enough?
It seems to be the human condition for an individual to fear what
one has not experienced or does not fully understand. For a
cicgendered individual, that sometimes includes one who might
identify with a gender that they were not physically assigned at birth.
One can quickly get caught up in talk of discriminatory legislation and
gendered or gender neutral pronouns and terms like cis and trans*.
The main fact, however, is clear: human and civil rights are being
denied to millions of individuals worldwide and these people find
themselves fearing for their health, safety, and freedoms. Though
society has recently become more accessible and friendly to trans*
people in some locations, there is still a level of doubt or
misunderstanding due in part to blind bigotry, but also because of a
distinct lack of education on the matter. Only by first explaining a few
terms and concepts relating to trans* or transgender issues, can one
even begin to discuss different inclusive legislations and current
happenings that aim to progress the general societal acceptance and
understanding of these trans* individuals. A critical look at the
arguments of the opposition can also help society push forward toward
a fair and accepting future.
Already in this piece, several terms have been used that the
average citizen might not quite comprehend. The most important to
start with are trans* or transgendered. Most often seen recently,
particularly on the Internet, is trans*. The asterisk is key with this
phrase as it essentially creates an umbrella term for all of the identities
within the gender identity spectrum. For a simple background:
within the world of Google, an asterisk is placed after a search term to
broaden that search to include any characters that might come after it.
When it comes to gender identity, adding that little asterisk can save
the casual user a lot of confusion because it then means that trans*
can then apply to any non-cisgender gender identity (transgender,
transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary,
agender, two-spirit, etc.) (Killermann 2012).
As one has seen, transgender is a sub-category of trans* and
should not be confused with all of the other aforementioned gender
identities. According to the American Psychological Association,
transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity,
gender expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically

Thompson

associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth (APA
2013).
Another term, that though antiquated, remains crucial to
distinguish is transsexual. Many people will confuse this with both
trans* and transgender; however, it refers to an individual who is
undergoing or has undergone what is usually simply termed a sex
change. Sex change is not a completely accurate term as sex is not
the only thing that is changing. Through the use of hormones, surgery,
the changing of pronouns, names, identity documents, etc.,
transsexual individuals modify both their life and body to conform with
the gender identity that they feel is theirs. Finally, it is absolutely
paramount to understand that gender identity has absolutely nothing
to do with sexual orientation. Sexual orientation, to be colloquial, is a
whole new species that is not the goal of this essay.
Once one has a grasp on the various common terms used when
talking about issues of gender identity, talk must turn to the issues
themselves. Trans* (especially transgender) individuals face
discrimination in nearly every aspect of their lives from employment
and health care to housing and education. Though there is a good deal
of legislation protecting people from gender discrimination, much of
this does not extend to protect those who are trans*. Currently, 35 of
50 states do not have specific hate crime laws that cover gender
identity. Six states have no hate crime legislation covering any kind of
gender or sexual orientation issues. Related to these statistics are
what are called Safe School Laws. Two types of SSLs exist in the
United States: non-discrimination and anti-bullying laws. Currently
only 19 states in the union have laws offering protection for both
sexual orientation and gender in either of those catagories. Eight
states, however, enforce Anti-LGB laws or regulation. All of these
states are in what is generally considered the conservative part of
America, several making up what is known as the bible belt.