All children belong in Texas, because they are our children.
Children know who they are and should be trusted. There is a need expressed by many children to break free of societal expectations, in generations previous and current. Some seek to exist beyond the limits of assigned gender at birth. That is because some kids are trans. Some kids are cis. They all belong in Texas, regardless of what is printed upon their birth certificate
Children’s lives may differ in the fact that they are transgender versus cisgender, and that comes with different challenges. There is no surgeries happening to transgender children. The mean age of this step of the trans life experience is around 20 years of age.
Transgender children are allowed with parental permission to explore the use of puberty blockers in youth. The mean age of starting this treatment is about 13 years old. So, when the children are close to beginning their puberty, they are allowed to opt out of the natural puberty they would take. Puberty is irreversible versus the puberty blockers, which are entirely reversible once starting HRT. Most trans children choose to start HRT by the mean age of 16. This allows them to receive the proper hormone for their best comfort depending on gender identity or lack thereof. A study was documented of a group of 22 trans feminine people and 33 trans masculine people.
The result claims that “after gender reassignment, in young adulthood, the GD (gender dysphoria) was alleviated and psychological functioning had steadily improved. Well-being was similar to or better than same-age young adults from the general population. Improvements in psychological functioning were positively correlated with postsurgical subjective well-being.” (study done in 2014, published in Pediatrics: the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics)
One of the main arguments that these “concerned” people present, is that trans girls have some unheard of advantage against cis girls their age. This is completely untrue. The unfortunate part of this though is that trans girls are held to this myth if they do beat cis girls, and there has been notable cases where cis girls felt their loss was unfair. It is not fair to trans girls to disallow them from winning in order to prove they are not a “threat.”
A win for a trans student should not be held up as “proof” of the “disadvantage” some people think cis children face. Their wins should be celebrated just like any child deserves, not scrutinized by people who do not care about the well-being of transgender children.
“For the past nine years,” explains Carroll, “transgender athletes have been able to compete on teams at NCAA member collegiates and universities consistent with their gender identity like all other student-athletes with no disruption to women’s collegiate sports.” (ACLU article debunking trans myths)
Transgender girls are not some abnormality, but rather a normal part of society and part of the teams of cisgender girls. Some trans girls might be all-stars, some are not. Trans children have just as much of a chance of sports success as cis children have.
There should not be a limit as to what a trans girl can achieve in sports based on fears and myths that cis people uphold. Trans children are not in any way holding back their peers by participating wholly and fully as their true selves.
Testosterone is not a dangerous performance enhancing drug. Framing trans bodies in the lens of an understanding of cis bodies is detrimental to trans athletes. “We know that such thinking leads to discrimination; we have seen it play out against women with hyperandrogenism or athletes with intersex conditions.” (Andrew of Victory Press)
Transgender People Have Always Been Here
Transgender people are not a new phenomenon. We have existed since long, long ago. For American culture, I’d like to point towards the cases of Christine Jorgenson and Billy Tipton. Both were completely different experiences. When Christine Jorgenson came out, she went through multiple surgeries and actually had a positive article written about her before the anti-trans craze hit American culture. This article provides proof that she was treated like a normal person, going through a substantial change to better her life. It was presented as such in the 1950’s.
Another example, is Billy Tipton, a transgender man who obscured his identity for his entire life until death when the paramedics revealed to his son that his genitalia was that of a vulva and as such commonly attributed to be “women’s anatomy” despite this not being true. All genders or lack thereof can have any sort of anatomy and it does not make it gendered whatsoever. This was a new concept to the people of the late 80’s and entire 90’s when he passed unexpectedly in 1989. To them, Billy was a “woman hiding as a man” and nothing more. Transgender activists fight for the proper recognition of his life though, and the proper respect he deserves as a transgender person of the past.
“Trans people’s survival throughout history was based on invisibility” (Zackary Drucker)
Now, transgender adults and children feel almost too visible to many people within the trans community. To the point we are the primary target for over 60 legislative bills this 2021 session and special sessions alone. But we cannot hide any longer. The next generation of transgender people are coming out earlier than before because of the amazing amount of educational material out there provided by previous LGBTQIA+ generations. It is not an unusual phenomenon. It is the natural course of progression when society and its children have access to that vital education.
There is no reason we shouldn’t accept trans children as they are in today’s world. As the gender or lack thereof they say they are. To reject this is violent transphobia that harms the well-being of transgender children in Texas and anywhere for that matter. Trans girls are girls, trans boys are boys, and nonbinary people are nonbinary. There is no debate about this. It is true that all genders or lack thereof can have any genital configuration despite societal expectations.
As an adult transgender person, I have experiences from my childhood that make me eager to fight for trans youth in today’s combative world. From a young age, I never knew or understood my gender, but over the years I came to understand it through being educated via internet LGBTQIA+ communities. It finally made sense why I resisted so many “typical” expectations of my assigned gender. Once I came out, my life improved drastically and I was finally taken seriously as the person I really am. There is nothing negative about transitioning and I found the real me through this experience. I am living proof that transitioning saves lives. The impact of cis-hetero-normative society’s expectations are harmful to a trans youth, as much as it was to me as a trans adult.
This year there were over 60 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills proposed to the Senate and House. Let’s take a look at what they were…
- The ban of best practice outlined by American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, and the American Psychological Association including HB 68, HB 1399, HB2693/SB1311, and HB4014/SB1646.
- The ban on trans athletes participating on the team of their real gender identity. Forcing it to be what is on the birth certificate. The sports bills include HB 1458, HB 3455, HB 4042, HB4043, SB 29, SB 373…and now, “SB2” is the final remaining bill in the special session for this
- Prohibiting gender marker change for children on birth certificate (SB 1148).
- Preemption of LGBTQ ordinances at the state level in order to undermine of the city level protections (multiple house bills and SB1206.)
- Religious exemption and allowance to refuse service to LGBTQIA+ people, including bills SB247, SB 738, HB 1424, and HB 3083.
- And lastly, a horrific one being a HIV criminalization bill (HB 369).
(Equality Texas Legislation Tracker provided this information)
Thankfully, almost all of these died in the primary legislative session, except the resurrected SB2.
As a trans adult I feel it is my duty to fight for those who are most vulnerable in my community. When the Texas legislature locked its sights on transgender youth, I was active this legislative session since early on in 2021. I benefited from the aid that Equality Texas provides for people who want to help but do not live in Austin, TX. Watching the testimonials and live broadcast of the hearings was, to be honest, quite traumatic. I can’t imagine how it must have felt for those children speaking up for themselves. I spoke up with testimonies I submitted to EQTX over the course of the legislative session via video. I also called and left messages or spoke to message-takers of the legislators responsible for the vote on these discriminatory bills.
A large part of me wonders where do we even fit in, with this reaction to our existence. I am brought back to a song by a late trans woman artist I still love, SOPHIE, and her message within the hit song ‘Immaterial’:
“Without my legs or my hair, without my genes or my blood, with no name, and with no type of story, where do I live? Tell me, where do I exist?”
Where do trans people exist if we are to be shoved out of society here in Texas? Many people have chosen to move away to keep their children safe. How long can everyone run, though, when Texas isn’t alone in proposing these vile bills? The action alone of challenging trans existence with these bills leaves an impact on trans youth, their families, and trans adults who are well aware that they are next. Trans adults were already a previous target in 2017’s anti-trans bathroom bills.
All of us are fighting for our lives, fighting for our existences. The right to exist and participate in all parts of society is not just for a privileged few. We all will exist whether or not legislators acknowledge us in their societal framework. We will always be here.
The All-Nighter SB2 Hearing
During one particular night that started on August 24th and rolled into August 25th, 2021, I was present for watching the testimonies for and against SB2 via the live-streamed event. SB2 is the final bill attacking trans youth of this 2021 legislative session. It has been continuously scheduled for every special session hearing. It is a sports ban bill that would target trans children — but trans girls are the specific target — and bar them from participating on the team that corresponds to their actual lived gender. With this new bill, if it passes, it will become law and force transgender children to play on a team matching their birth certificate’s noted gender. A lot of trans people do not get this changed, or they are not yet able to. A piece of paper should not stand in the way of allowing trans youth to participate in the sports team they desire to be on. Legislators made it clear they were more focused on attacking trans youth over prioritizing the failing Texas grid system.
It was an exhausting night with many tears shed as I listened to the powerful words of transgender adults and youth as young as eight years old. I unfortunately also heard the words of people that believe myths about trans people, especially trans children, vilifying us as a community.
An example in this tweet from Equality Texas that night:
They consider it arguing for “safety measures” they think are needed, to separate trans and cis children. Nothing hurt more than hearing these grown adults come up and spout this nonsense after seeing a young trans girl testify for herself and her community so bravely right before.
To say “I see your pain” and continue to enact more pain upon trans children is nothing short of despicable. To be proud of this, no less, is abhorrent. To think they are “helping” children, absolutely foolish. I do not respect any of these people. This wasn’t the end of it either, the chamber echoed slurs screamed by “protestors” (which were actually just bigots who enjoy harassing children.) These terrible words were directed at these transgender children and adults that filled the room to defend trans rights that night til 6:00AM.
Now that I have introduced you to a lot to get you thinking, I would like to ask of my readers to consider this: What role does gender play in an adult life?
Most people will mention that it is more or less a catalog of sexual or reproductive capacity. Why do we push these things on children, too young for any of that to truly matter?
“We don’t limit a child’s imagination, except when it comes to dressing themselves” (Malt)
Why do we do this as adults? What are we trying to enforce upon our children? Why?
“Why does a pink flower attached to a child’s forehead indicate genital configuration? It’s so weird that we’ve just accepted that. Because if we even thought about it for a second we’d see HOW weird it is!” (Malt)
I would also like to ask today: why do we think it is fair to put so many children through this much trauma surrounding their school experience and opportunities? Why do we do this when there is tangible proof that none of the myths are true?
Why are we putting transgender children through this pain?
To simply “see their pain” is not enough. I ask for more from cisgender people, for the sake of the transgender community and the future of all trans children.
More love, more understanding, more listening.
Ask yourself as a cisgender person why it is okay to “see the [trans] pain” and commit these violently transphobic acts of oppression anyways.
These are our children. They should be treated with respect, should they not?
As I finish writing this at 6:04 AM the night before the beginning of the third and hopefully final special session (starting at 9:00 AM CDT promptly), I can’t help but feel the weight of this situation and all the pain of my community.
SB2 is among the top bills being prioritized for hearing this special session, again.
I implore you to seek out what you can do to aid the transgender community today, right now, in this dire time. Even if it’s something as small as being kind. Support them in any way. We are all fighting for our children’s lives together.
I wish there was not a time that our children had to be “brave” in the face of evil, giving their own personal testimonies in front of people who wish they didn’t exist.
I wish for them to have a bright future where they can truly exist as the gender they really are, that they know they are. That they tell us they are. Believe trans children.
Being transgender is a gift, I will always feel this way, as a transgender person.
Transitioning gives us a real chance at a life we can love. Transitioning is suicide prevention. Being allowed to participate fully as the gender we really are in our society is suicide prevention.
Transgender children deserve as many opportunities as cis children do. Because they are our children, they are all children, and they belong in Texas. We won’t fade away.
Orion Schiada aka Ovaettr is a 30 year old Texan who moved here in xyr childhood from California in the year 2000. Xe is a trans/queer Denton based varied designer, animator, and activist. He resides with his brown tabby cat Captain Barbosa, or “Barby” for short.