By Bronte Mcgillis:
*Note: pseudonyms are used in this article to preserve anonymity
If you looked it up in a dictionary, you’d find that a transgender teen is defined as an adolescent who does not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth. But for many who go through this experience daily, real life is a lot less simple. Meet Jack (agender), Mia (genderqueer), Cameron (a trans boy), and Beatrix (a trans girl), four students at Lisgar who have a lot to say about how their identities, and the stigma around those identities, affect their education experience.
Beatrix: If anyone knew I was trans, I fully recognize that I’d be bullied. I see all this hatred, and I just imagine if the people saying these things got the chance to direct those feelings at someone in particular. I don’t even see people being disciplined by teachers when they say rude things about trans people. It just doesn’t happen.
Cameron: Sometime dysphoria and discrimination
affect my ability to stay on top of schoolwork because my anxiety and depression will be triggered and I will not be able to focus properly
Beatrix: Most people don’t know how crippling dysphoria is. It’s horrible, feeling out of place in your own body. It creates this feeling of utter helplessness and apathy, like a mountain that you’ve been climbing for so long and you’re too exhausted to climb anymore. Day after day, I pick myself up again and I keep climbing, but sometimes it’s so, so hard. Honestly, just any amount of understanding would be such a huge weight off my shoulders.
Cameron: I feel like crap when people misgender me, to me that shows that they’re not taking my identity as seriously as the identities of people who they consider “normal”, there’s no respect for us.
Jack: To make Lisgar a safer place for trans students, I think some things that could be established are less binary and cissexist gym classes: “male assigned at birth (MAAB)” instead of “boys” gym classes, for example. A non gender-specific change room, with stalls, would also be helpful. A policy for all teachers to respect the pronouns of their students. This one’s kind of small, but soap in the gender-inclusive bathroom. At least we have paper towels now, but I still need to carry around hand sanitizer.
Mia: On occasion, a person perceived as female can use a “male” public bathroom because the “female” one is occupied and everyone can just laugh it off. But a person perceived as male using a “female” washroom will always be thought to be a pervert. I don’t understand how it’s 2013 and we still don’t just call them “bathrooms with urinals” and “bathrooms without urinals”.
Cameron: In every class you hear teachers saying ‘guys and girls’ instead of a simple ‘everyone’ or ‘folks’ or ‘students’ or ‘class.’ It makes me feel like I’ll never be able to live a life in what people call ‘the real world,’ and I don’t even want to try anymore.
Beatrix: We honestly just need more awareness that trans people exist, and we aren’t here to be laughed at. We are real people, just like anyone else. It seems so simple, but so many people haven’t grasped it.