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Emma Grimaldi
Ms. Kirkpatrick
Gender Dysphoria:
the Transgender Revolution
Gender dysphoria is a complex and taboo topic within any given culture; relatively
modern, this sudden revolution is grounded in how people view the transgender community. The
stigma is changing, becoming more progressive and beneficial to those with the mental illness.
Gender Dysphoria is a mental illness in which a persons physical body anatomy does not match
up with his/her gender identification (Gender Dysphoria). Previously known as Gender Identity
Disorder, this mental illness is seen within the transgender community, and due to its labeling
within the DSM, the label provides insurance opportunities for those who require medical
assistance. The name was altered due to the stigma behind Gender Dysphoria; people believed
that those with the mental illness were going through a phase, discrediting the thoughts and
emotions of those with the illness. The stigma for gender dysphoria stems from ignorance, and
the invalidation of the mentally ill compels them to suffer in silence; misrepresentation results in
fear and misunderstanding, preventing people from comprehending the illness and properly
treating the mentally ill.
Society exacerbates the stigma behind gender dysphoria through a lack of education;
people are taught disturbing myths that gender dysphoria is only a phase that can be outgrown to
become normal again. Marti Abernathey exposes this belief within her article, unveiling how,
...cult of relativism runs so deep that adults even balk from making that most basic of all
judgements ... and instead we accommodate the childs own fads and silliness, (Abernathey).
This perpetuation of gender dysphoria stigma removes the support of family required by those

with the illness, resulting in depression, self-harm, thoughts of suicide, and drug abuse. As seen
within the DSMs original title for gender dysphoria, gender identity disorder, people perceive
this illness as a choice, something the person can correct. Society, in turn, then believes there is
something innately deviant with these people, thus leading to abuse and cruelty as the mentally
ill are forced into the constraints of their birth gender.
Another damaging factor is the lack of exposure society has of those with gender
dysphoria; the harassment and abuse the mentally ill face is primarily due to confusion and
misunderstanding. Gender dysphoria is relatively new; before the twentieth century no one knew
the illness existed. Even with its current popularity within the media, those with gender
dysphoria represent a sliver of society. Roughly 0.5% of the population has gender dysphoria,
about 700,000 people within America. To put in perspective, 65% of Americans know someone
who is homosexual vs. only 9% who know someone who is transgender (Steinmetz). This leads
to alienation and isolation, as seen in Steinmetzs interview with Laverne Cox as she recounts her
childhood, ...being bullied and chased home from school as kids called her a sissy and a
fag...downing a bottle of pills as sixth grader...driven by the enduring belief that trans people are
sick and wrong, (Steinmetz). Lack of education perpetuates the stigma, restricting the mentally
ill from seeking medical assistance in fear of being humiliated and abused by their peers.
Glicksman unveils the startling statistics, how in a survey of 6,450 transgender completed, 63
percent of respondents experienced some form of discrimination due to bias about their gender
identity...41 percent...reported they had attempted suicide - a rate 25 times higher than that of the
general population, (Glicksman). While society is becoming more open minded and accepting
of the transgender community, there still remains a disturbing stigma within the vast majority of

the population. Education is crucial; it is the difference between a supporting environment and a
degrading domain.
The media provides a form of communication for the gender dysphoria community,
effectively ending the demeaning connotation of the mental illness through celebrities, the
internet, and TV shows. The internet is imperative; providing answers to unsure questions,
opening communities and creating a sense of unity, the internet provides those with gender
dysphoria comfort. They realize they are not alone in this world and there are others just like
them. Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox are two successful celebrity transgender women setting an
example for the transgender community by drawing awareness to gender dysphoria. In an
interview with Vogue, Cox discloses, It is the trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them
access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools, and homes for our young people,
(Tanzer) emphasizing the importance of these womens leadership roles within society.
Television is another crucial factor within ending the stigma behind gender dysphoria;
Becoming Us, a documentary on ABC, emphasizes love and support needed in the
transitioning process. The show humanizes people with gender dysphoria, asserting the
normality. Carley, a transwoman, is presented as a loving and caring parent for her son, Ben.
This is revolutionary; rather than presenting these people as strange, creepy, and inhuman the
media positively reflects the family through acceptance and love. The media eliminates the
loneliness many people with gender dysphoria feel, replacing seclusion with support and unity
within the transgender community.
The media has the potential to bully and withdraw people with gender dysphoria from
society as well; it spreads demeaning messages with ease, further perpetuating the stigma.
Statistically speaking, 67% of transgender children face online bullying. These children are six

times more likely to be depressed and eight times more likely to attempt suicide (Transgender
Bullying: A National Epidemic). People in the trans community are withdrawn due to the
bullying; left alone they become self-destructive. This harassment is enhanced by the media
through movies; within Silence of the Lambs, a serial killer who failed at applying for a
sexchange decides to create a coat of womens skins. This gruesome plotline further perpetuates
the stigma, presenting the transgender community as dangerous and violent. Spreading
misconceptions, the movie industry creates an unrealistic image for the transgender community,
further expanding the notion that those with the illness are mentally unstable, a threat to society.
The fear and ignorance behind the gender dysphoria stigma is easily spread; rather than
spreading progressive ideas the media regresses, back tracking away from the goal of ending the
social stigma behind gender dysphoria.
The most effective way to eliminate the stigma behind gender dysphoria is to create an
open, accepting society for transgender people; society should educate its members, provide
protection, and promote acceptance, leading not only to a welcoming environment but to the
creation of a community based on equality. People need to begin with education; parents and
schools should teach acceptance and love. Children would be discouraged from bullying and
cruelty, educating them on compassion, kindness and equality. The police should become more
involved within the process of acceptance, taking action against hate crimes and harassment,
protecting everyone equally under the law. Policies need to be implemented within all careers to
prevent discrimination; people cannot be fired or let go because of their gender identification.
The presence of those with gender dysphoria needs to be normalized within society; when seen
frequently and considered ordinary, transgender people would be average citizens. Society in
turn would recognize the mediocrity of these people, removing the stigma that they are

abnormal. This transition into an acceptance is possible, as seen within Coventry High School.
When asked about the student bodys reaction to pupils with gender dysphoria, guidance
counselor Ms. Zadrowski critiqued, I feel were pretty welcoming to it [gender dysphoria]
because weve had students go through it before. Like a graduation, little things come up, the
students are very accepting. Ive seen incredible acceptance among students and staff,
(Zadrowski). This exemplifies the importance of exposure; meeting and interacting with people
who have gender dysphoria removes the stigma placed upon the illness by society. The Gender
Identity Center in Colorado provides an excellent model for the elimination of the gender
dysphoria stigma; advocating for the promotion of acceptance, this center provides counseling
and education to assist the transgender in their day to day lives. The center has a friendly
atmosphere, the trans community is comfortable within the building. Should society take up the
same practice and be as open as the Gender Identity Center, the stigma behind gender dysphoria
would be eliminated. The removal of stigma is possible, however, society as a whole must
become educated, removing the ignorance linked to the gender dysphoria stigma.
Gender dysphoria is a relatively new illness; with little research done on the topic the
stigma is rampant within society. People lack the ability to differentiate fact from fiction,
resulting in a disturbingly inaccurate stigma. While the media had once been dehumanizing
towards the illness, it is progressing. TV shows like Becoming Us and celebrities like Caitlyn
Jenner are redefining what it means to be transgender. Society is becoming open-minded,
shifting away from being abusive to being tolerant, and maybe in the future acceptance will be
present within all communities. Advocates are slowly gaining momentum, advancing in their
campaign to achieve gender equality. The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex and
Asexual (LGBTQIA) community is gradually gaining attention, revolutionizing the way the

world views gender. Gender is developing and with the removal of stigma people with gender
dysphoria will no longer be limited by oppression and fear.


Personal Interview with Ms. Zadrowski

1.What is the protocol within the school for students with gender dysphoria? Are they accepted
or tolerated within the school? Can they use the bathrooms and play on the sports teams of their
preferred gender?
There isnt one specific protocol, its a specific case basis. Some students might want more help,
more attention, others might meant to be left alone. It all depends on where they are in the
process. For the bathrooms, they are allowed to use singular bathrooms, such as ones in the
nurse's office. Sports teams havent come up in the three years Ive worked here, it would be a
legal matter until everything became official. Overall, I would say the students Ive seen have
been accepted. Case by case, it depends on the student.
2. How are teachers instructed to handle conflicts involving a student with gender dysphoria?
How are teachers suppose to address identification, names, pronouns? What about bullying?
It all depends on what the student wants. If the student wants to be called he, the teachers tend to
be very understanding . If anything came up with that [bullying] they [the teachers] would come
to guidance or the school psychologist to properly address the situation. Teachers are instructed
to treat everyone equally and each situation fairly.


3. What steps has administration taken to ensure comfort and security for students with gender
dysphoria within the school? Do they receive special counseling? Are they monitored to prevent
They [those with gender dysphoria] dont receive any special counseling unless it is requested.
We dont want to treat them any differently to ensure they feel equal. We know which students
would be going through this [gender dysphoria and the transition involved] and keep our eye out.
4. What is one way the school could improve and become more welcoming towards those with
gender dysphoria?
I feel like were pretty welcoming to it [gender dysphoria] because weve had students go
through it before. Like at graduation, little things come up, the students are very accepting. Ive
seen incredible acceptance among students and staff.
5. How does the student body overall react to the individuals with gender dysphoria? Is there a
way to better negative reactions?
I think it [the school] is very accepting, as the student goes through this [the transition] its not
abrupt, as they accept it so does the student body. Also, I think [the current] generation is far
more accepting of those who have gender dysphoria, therefore are more welcoming to students
with gender dysphoria.