NYTimes.com – Editorial Board May 4 2015
“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans.”“Fix society. Please.” Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old, in her suicide note.
Part 1 – The Quest for Transgender Equality – Being transgender today is still unreasonably hard, but it is far from hopeless. This is the first in a series looking at the challenges ahead.
A generation ago, transgender Americans were widely regarded as deviants, unfit for dignified workplaces, a disgrace for families. Those who confided in relatives were, by and large, pitied and shunned. For most, transitioning on the job was tantamount to career suicide. Medical procedures to align a person’s body with that person’s gender identity — an internal sense of being male, female or something else — were a fringe specialty, available only to a few who paid out of pocket.
Coming out meant going through life as a pariah.
Being transgender today remains unreasonably and unnecessarily hard. But it is far from hopeless. More Americans who have wrestled with gender identity are transitioning openly, propelling a civil rights movement that has struggled even as gays and lesbians have reached irreversible momentum in their fight for equality. Those coming out now are doing so with trepidation, realizing that while pockets of tolerance are expanding, discriminatory policies and hostile, uninformed attitudes remain widespread.
They deserve to come out in a nation where stories of compassion and support vastly outnumber those that end with a suicide note. The tide is shifting, but far too slowly, while lives, careers and dreams hang in the balance.