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  Karney 1 Eric Karney Mrs. Rager HELA II 19 February 2015 The Struggle for Transgender Rights As society begins to gradually accept the civil rights of the queer community, such as marriage equality and protective laws, the movement for transgender rights is becoming more of an issue, although much greater progress is still required. In the modern world of gender roles and binaries, being denoted simply as “other”  has led to common problems for the transgender community, such as workplace discrimination, lack of recognition in schools, exclusion from gender specific sports, and interacting with intolerance on a daily basis. Combined these factors work to demean any person who does not fall within the strict limits of the cisgender binary complex. Traditional values have left others who do not belong behind and struggling to survive. The drive for basic liberties is an important one, because it means a difference of life and death and can also allow people who have been excluded from society for most of its past, to be welcomed in a new age. The rights of transgender people in modern society have been neglected, and the people themselves demeaned, leading to an oppressed group of people who must search for their identity and simultaneously strive for their basic civil rights. Queer people in the workforce, especially those who are transgender, experience a much greater deal of discrimination than their cisgender counterparts. It is currently legal in thirty two states to fire workers for being transgender (Malone). Another historic right was taken away last week as Kansas Governor Brownback signed an executive order rescinding protective rights for LGBTQ state employees.   This move was viewed by Tom Witt, director of Equality Kansas  Karney 2 as“’…an outrage. Gay, lesbian, and transgender state employees across Kansas have trusted they would be safe from discrimination and harassment in their workplace but Sam Brownback has,  by erasing their job protections, declared ‘open season’ on every one of them’” (Lowry).  Across the country as rights are being won each day for marriage equality, rights for gender identity are either being removed, as in this example, or not noticed at all. Transgender students also face an array of discrimination in schools, such as being forced into using the bathroom of their assigned gender and not being recognized by the school as the gender that the student identifies with, typically leading to schools referring to that student by their assigned gender and its pronouns. This action is extremely demeaning and also poses the question of what bathroom to use. Rather than utilizing gender non-specific restrooms, schools commonly use bathrooms assigned by gender, which can be confusing for students who are recognized by their school as a certain gender, while they themselves identify differently. A discrepancy in appearance also tends to confuse other students, who remain mostly ignorant on the issue. “While a bathroom is just a bathroom, it can hold great significance for transgender and gender nonconforming kids, especially those seeking acceptance from peers” (McGuire, B1), which can make a huge difference between feeling welcome or rejected for transgender students. Another challenge is participating in sports, specifically the issue of students with varying anatomies changing in the same locker room, although they both identify with a certain gender. Transgender athletes are used to being excluded from locker rooms, because of this  problem, but recent actions have also hurt these students even more. “Thirty -two states have adopted policies in recent years regarding transgender athletes…with several states placing restrictions on their ability to co mpete with teammates of their preferred gender” (Somashekhar,  Karney 3 A1). In addition to facing intolerance during the school day, transgender students are also banned from participating in extracurricular sports, because they identify as transgender. The movement for transgender equality is simple and based on the idea that people who grapple with gender identity still deserve the same rights as any cisgender person. This notion is rejected by opponents to transgender rights, who claim that imposing legislation on the issue would be an attack on religious and personal beliefs, “These laws are used to trump fundamental civil liberties such as free speech and free exercise of religion” (Anderson). Rather than single out those with traditional beliefs, protective legislation is passed to ensure the rights of transgender people, who have faced hate crimes and discrimination for most of history and are now being safeguarded through the law. Another fallacy in the opposition’s argument is that  the Constitution provides the right to discriminate against others, because they have a right to free speech and personal beliefs. Although this remains a crucial liberty in our society, the Constitution was not created to protect the right of discrimination, but rather provide protection for those who would otherwise be excluded and legally defenseless. The lack of transgender rights has led to discrimination and intolerance for those outside of the antediluvian cisgender binary complex. Recently, Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager took her life after experiencing extreme discrimination, both from her school and family. She wrote that she didn’t want her death to be in vain and she wanted to bring awareness to the lack of civil rights for transgender people. In modern society, transgender people are subject to discrimination at work and school, by not being recognized as the gender they identify with, which demeans their very existence. Mostly traditional forces are opposed to rights for transgender people, claiming that such rights would be an attack on their basic freedoms. However, such rights would legally establish a position for the defenseless, which was the  Karney 4 srcinal goal of the Constitution. Establishing such laws would allow transgender people to live in harmony with society and include them in modern life and it should be the goal of all citizens to enhance the life of others. Maintaining a stance of indifference would only aid the oppressor and not the oppressed and also let tragic deaths, such as Leelah Alcorn’ s, would be in vain.
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