Saturday, January 03, 2015

1/03/2015 12:44:00 PM
The topic of being transgender, has pressed a lot of people's buttons recently in the wake of a teen whom committed suicide and implicated the lack of love from her parents about who she was. The teenager allegedly scheduled a post to appear on her Tumblr account saying "My death needs to mean something."

I say "allegedly," because at the time of this writing the Tumblr account that it was posted on has been taken down. I was unable to confirm what other media sites have said was posted.

The teen's parents' post on Facebook has been widely shared and criticized for continuing to show a lack of support or understanding of their child's transgender identification. "My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn, went home to Heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers." They have since removed the post.

Voices from both ends of the spectrum have been very loud about voicing their opinions on the idea of being transgender. Countless individuals have posted their support and stories on Twitter with the hashtag, #RealLifeTransAdult. Others have taken to social media to express their beliefs that someone could be transgender at all.

Make no mistake, the fact that this teen felt like their only option was to take their own life is tragic. The way that society at large has treated the LGBT community throughout history is also tragic. If there is a silver lining in this tragedy, it is that people are talking about it. Even if people are polarized on the topic.

To say that people are polarized on the topic is actually making light of the situation. There is massive ignorance being spewed on social media, comments, and message boards.

You can see by the number of "likes" that each of these received, that they are not alone in believing that the teenager was just "confused" and that it was created by external forces. To say that "society confuses children" is so far from the truth that it makes that comment nauseating. Society does anything but confuse children on identifying gender. We categorize people as male and female from an early age, and anyone who doesn't fit into those columns is cast as an outsider, weird, a freak.

What people don't realize is that the idea that you're born with a "gender" isn't exactly that black and white. The concept of gender is actually much more of a gray area. The human body doesn't always equip us as such, and doesn't always operate as such. Children can not only be born with ambiguous genitalia, but there are other factors like chromosomes and hormones that don't always match what we physically display. If you've never heard of this, the Wikipedia page about the topic of intersex people is a good place to start.

Now with that being said, I have issues with how most are looking at this situation and placing blame. While I do agree that the parents of this teen should be ridiculed for their lack of support for their child, I don't agree with the idea that they or even society can be blamed entirely for the teenager killing herself.

There are a lot of people in the world whose parents don't love them and feel rejected by society. Not all of them kill themselves. In fact, the ones that don't are the ones that we should be paying attention to right now, in light of this situation.

The transgender men and women who have toughed it out, and fought against a society that discriminates against them, are the ones who had the courage to say that it's okay to be different. They're the ones that even make this conversation possible.

The next statement may make you angry, but I'm going to say it anyway. Killing yourself and blaming other people, whether that's your parents or society as a whole, is cowardice. I have immense empathy for what she must have felt in order to finally make the decision to take her own life, but that doesn't change the fact that the ones who are staying to fight her battle for her are the ones to be revered and respected... not the person who opted out.

Having the strength to say and fight for what's right is deserving of true admiration. Cowards blame others for what they don't have. I'm reminded of one of my favorite inspirational quotes from the movie Rocky Balboa.

"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!"

As I said earlier, some good has come from this situation in the form of the topic being thrust in the faces of the masses, and maybe even more good can come from that. However, I refuse to say that the teen's death was necessary for that to happen in the first place. If she had stayed and fought, maybe even more good could have come from her life.