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Allie Rones
Ms. Gardner
English 10, Period 2
30 April 2015
A New Kind of Out-of-Body Experience: The Need for Transgender Laws
It is easy to forget sometimes how ignorant the average person in society can be. Allow
me to paint a picture for you. Imagine an average classroom of thirty people. Now, imagine
twenty-seven of those people living homeless on the streets, struggling to find work, twenty-four
feeling unsafe and uncertain in an environment that is meant to feel secure, and fifteen falling
prey to the temptations of suicide, and ending their own lives. This classroom is filled with
transgender peoples; the average person will walk right past this classroom without a second
glance. To be transgender is to identify as the gender opposite of ones biological gender, such as
identifying as male when one is biologically female and vice versa. While it is no secret that our
society has made leaps and bounds in the past few years concerning minority representation -homosexual couples featured in popular cartoons such as Steven Universe and The Legend of
Korra, as well as live-action shows such as Modern Family and The Fosters -- the transgender
community continues to be an invisible force among the people. Because of this general lack of
representation, trans citizens are victims in society, facing the constant threats of abuse and
neglect that countless other minorities have experienced throughout history. Various laws
concerning the well-being of transgender people have been circulating throughout the political
spectrum as of late, but the probability of them being passed is slim thanks to the overwhelming
numbers of those against them. Laws concerning the rights of the transgender population should

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be passed in order to ensure their basic rights as American citizens -- life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness.
Initially, many would argue that special laws for transgender people infringe on the rights
of cisgender citizens, heterosexuals who identify as their biological gender. For example, many
people believe that these new laws, which will allow trans people to use the bathrooms and
locker rooms of their chosen gender, will leave them at risk in such public facilities. The
organization, Citizens for Community Values, expresses this concern by saying that the change
outrageously neglects the safety and physical and emotional health of women and children and
opens up real possibilities of predators and incidents of rape, assault, public exposure, and other
sexual abuse (qtd. in Ford). Also, according to Alan Sears, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)
President, anyone willing to sacrifice the rights of the majority, being cisgender women and
children, for the sake of the transgender minority is just emphasizing the selfish nature of the
people and the laws theyre attempting to justify (qtd. in Ford). In addition, those from religious
backgrounds believe that such laws would impeach their religious freedom. As Joe Dallas
explains in his article, The Transsexual Dilemma, that as Christians see it, the issue with
transgender individuals is not that their sex is wrong, but instead their feelings are wrong. He
states that the first assignments of sex in history were divinely commanded and commended,
meaning that our sex is no accident and must be treated accordingly (Dallas). Therefore, they
believe that these laws, which would ultimately ban discrimination of transgender people in the
workplace and other such environments, would trump fundamental civil liberties such as the
free exercise of religion, (Anderson). In summation, those against the formation of pro-trans
laws believe that it would be an injustice to the cisgender majority. It is true that by passing these
laws, many people may feel as though theyre being inconvenienced. However, these laws are

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imperative to protecting the livelihoods, sense of normalcy, and overall lives of transgender
citizens.
Admittedly, passing pro-trans laws may cause discomfort for those who are against the
transgender community. Nevertheless, when one considers the impact that trans discrimination
has on their jobs and livelihood, as well as the economy as a whole, the discomfort of a few
becomes obsolete. First off, according to Crosby Burns and Jeff Krehely, members of the LGBT
Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, an estimated 90% of
transgender Americans have reported experiencing harassment in the workplace. Common sense
would infer that such abuse in what is meant to be a safe environment would make it difficult for
trans employees to work properly, thereby hindering their livelihood and the overall health of the
business. That is, if they can get a job in the first place. Burns also reveals that 47% of all
transgender citizens have been fired and/or completely passed over for a job, merely because of
their gender identity. Lastly, studies have shown that transgender individuals are twice as likely
to be unemployed and are four times as likely to live in poverty than gays and lesbians, a
minority which already experiences high rates of unemployment and poverty (Crosby Burns).
Based on these staggering statistics, it is clear to see that transgender discrimination is an issue
that greatly prevents transgender individuals from sustaining a healthy socioeconomic lifestyle,
thereby making it difficult for them to support themselves and their families. Furthermore, this
brand of discrimination damages an already wounded economy by preventing so many ablebodied people from working. Therefore, if society is so keen on ending poverty in America, why
should they allow this discrimination, which has sent many citizens out onto the streets, to
continue?

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Furthermore, the lack of laws protecting transgender rights has left them without the
liberty to participate in the world around them, especially pertaining to school and other public
settings. Let us begin with a clear issue for the trans community -- public restrooms. The public
bathroom can be a major source of anxiety for transgender youth, explains Grant Bowers and
Wendy Lopez in their pamphlet, Which Way to the Restroom? Respecting the Rights of
Transgender Youth in the School System. They continue, stating that Using a public restroom
may result in their status being discovered. If they identify as transgender and have not yet
revealed their identity, they may feel like an imposter. Worse yet, trans teens may be subject to
ridicule, abuse or assault, physical or sexual, in public lavatories (Bowers and Lopez). This fear
in of itself removes transgender students from normal school life and prevents them from
enjoying a normal childhood. Further aggravating the situation is the controversy of sports.
According to Bowers and Lopez, these issues could include an attempt to balance competitive
equality, access to sports in accordance with gender identity, and shared athletic facilities
However, many communities, as stated previously, are apprehensive of this change due to fear of
assault, when in reality this fear is far from plausible. They don't understand I'm not trying to
pretend to be someone else, says Tony, a young transgender boy from Sacramento too afraid to
try out for the boys baseball team thanks to the taunting of his school bullies. He says, Im just
trying to be who I was all along (qtd. in Lovett). Yet another example of trans students being too
fearful to engage in public activities because they might be forced into their biological gender
group or face constant harassment. Clearly, the lack of laws protecting the rights of transgender
individuals inhibits them from enjoying the liberties of freedom granted to all citizens by the
constitution. Everyone should be able to feel safe and comfortable enough to participate

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normally in society. In summation, America is founded on the basis of freedom, but what good is
that freedom if not everyone is free to experience it?
Ultimately, preventing the passing of transgender laws prevents transgender individuals
from leading a happy life. According to Patrick Strudwick, writer for the Pulitzer Prize winning
website -- The Guardian, a recent survey conducted by Pace, a mental health charity for lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender people, was taken to gauge the extent of self-harm and suicide
among transgender youth. The results are astonishing. According to this study, 59% of
transgender youth said they had deliberately hurt themselves, compared with 8.9% of all 16- to
24-year-olds (Strudwick). Based on this, it can be concluded that transgender youth are
approximately seven times more likely to purposely harm themselves than the average person. In
addition, this survey also found that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted
suicide, and 30% said they had done so in the past year, while 59% said they had at least
considered doing so, while only 6% of all adults have claimed to have ever attempted suicide,
nearly ten times smaller than that of the trans community (Strudwick). What accounts for these
existentially higher statistics? In response to this, Margaret Unwin, the Pace chief executive,
states: The lack of visibility and acceptance in society contributes to these shocking figures
about suicide attempts and self-harm in trans young people. While societys attitudes towards
transgender people are changing, it is still not fast enough and the negative impacts on trans
peoples mental health every day are huge (qtd. in Strudwick). Therefore, it is obvious that the
abuse and dysphoria experienced by transgender teens without proper representation is depriving
many citizens of their basic human right of happiness, and driving many to turn to unimaginably
tragic solutions for their depressions. Therefore, it is imperative that laws be passed to prevent

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the kind of maltreatment that leads to such unhappiness, and further leads to such tragedies. This
is our countrys future being killed off after all.
In conclusion, laws concerning the well-being of transgender citizens is crucial to
preserving their rights to pursue prosperity in jobs they enjoy, to live normally amongst their
peers, and to lead happy lives. These laws would finally begin to ease the tensions between the
transgender and cisgender communities, just as laws protecting gays and lesbians have, and
would finally allow transgender individuals to truly become apart of society. After all, this nation
was founded on the notion of equality, the notion that everyone will participate equally diligently
to pave the way for a brighter future, but that dream will never be achieved so long as so many
individuals are unable to participate merely because of who they are. Therefore, it is time to
extend the olive branch once again, this time not to a particular race or sexual orientation, but to
the communitys trans brothers and sisters, who are just as important as their cisters.

Works Cited
Anderson, Ryan T. "Special Protections Shouldn't Trump Basic Liberties." Heritage Foundation.
26 Sep. 2013: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 10 May 2015.

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Bowers, Grant, and Wendy Lopez. "Which Way to the Restroom? Respecting the Rights of
Transgender Youth in the School System." (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 10 May 2015.
Burns, Crosby, and Jeff Krehely. "Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace
Discrimination and Harassment." Name. N.p., 2 June 2011. Web. 10 May 2015.
Dallas, Joe. "The Transsexual Dilemma." N.p., 11 June 2009. Web. 10 May 2015.
Ford, Zack. "Opponents Of Clevelands Nondiscrimination Protections Reject Transgender
Identities." ThinkProgress RSS. N.p., 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 May 2015.
Lovett, Ian. "Changing Sex, and Changing Teams." New York Times. 07 May 2013: A.13. SIRS
Issues Researcher. Web. 04 May 2015.
Strudwick, Patrick. "Nearly Half of Young Transgender People Have Attempted Suicide UK
Survey." The Guardian. N.p., 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 May 2015.