Caitlyn Jenner, in all her glory, recently accepted the ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage Award and delivered a powerful, important speech: it’s time to accept people for who they are.
It is wrong for a citizen of a country to be denied the rights of another on the terms that one of them is cisgender and the other is a transgender. It was wrong when women and people of color were denied full citizenship rights, and the exact same applies for transgender citizenship.
I can be compassionate and defensive towards transgender people because I am the same as them — a human being. Born and raised a Catholic, I was taught many things about love, but I don’t recall any of them calling it acceptable to discriminate, condemn, and judge others only because they are different.
Put simply, one’s gender is merely another factor in a person’s identity; it does not comprise all that they are and all that they can become, and is certainly not a viable justification to slander another person or treat them any less of the human being they are.
It was devastating to know that his heart had to endure so much struggle to accept the wonderful person he is.
All teenagers experience a kind of identity crisis: Who am I? What is my purpose? Where do I fit in? It must be awful for a queer teenager to realize a major part of their identity but feel unable to openly claim it. They hear the societal insults, see the bullied queer youths in news headlines, and feel the hostility in the air.
Fully recognizing the situation and the risks involved, many queer youth assume it’s easier to suppress it and try to live like a “normal” person. But what is normal? Depriving yourself of your true identity is not only difficult, but becomes increasingly unbearable with time.
I once worked with a person who was transgender, and we instantly became friends when we met. We had both gone through milestone struggles in our lives and stayed true to our love of pizza over the course of various diet trends. He was a young adult with a kind heart and it was devastating to know that he had to endure so much struggle to accept the wonderful person he really is.
Everyone deserves to feel the freedom to be themselves. Just as Caitlyn said in her speech, “They deserve your respect. And from that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society, and a better world for all of us.” Let’s not only take steps, but take grand leaps to welcome people who are transgender into our society with open arms.