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Translating Transgender: A layman's guide to the least-known minority Essay

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Translating Transgender: A layman's guide to the least-known minority


Who hasn't been told to "just be yourself and people will like you?" It seems like such a simple notion. But what if being yourself could lead to harassment, rejection, isolation, unemployment, homelessness, physical violence, or even death? Not so simple anymore, is it? Sadly, this situation is one that confronts transgendered people worldwide on a daily basis.

Laurie Johnson*, a tall, robust Fall River resident who underwent male-to-female sex reassignment surgery in 1998, says that she can hardly leave her house without being hassled.

"The discrimination and harassment are almost constant when I'm 'dressed,'" she says. "I've heard total strangers comment 'Is that a man or a woman?'. I've been denied service at a bank because they claimed I was wearing a 'disguise.' I tried to attend a business school where they required students to wear business attire. I was asked to leave the first day because I was 'disrupting the classes' simply by being there."

Sadly, Johnson's experiences are not uncommon.

Many transgendered people, "dressed" or not, report encountering such discrimination and difficulties in their day-to-day lives, a lot of which can be largely attributed to the fact that, despite the great progress that has been made on the gender front, the general public is still largely uneducated about the transgendered lifestyle. While the gay and lesbian movements have come to the forefront of our national consciousness as a result of the recent gay marriage controversy, the transgender movement has remained somewhat in the shadows.

Indeed, the transgender culture is probably the least talked about, most commonly misunderstood minority in...


... middle of paper ...


...owed up and talked to them for a while, then wrote a nice story but her editor squashed it because of the ad revenue they get from that chain. They don't usually bother me anymore, unless they have a new security worker."

More than anything, when speaking of life as a transsexual, Johnson says she just wishes people would understand that "transsexuals are just like everyone else in the world except when it comes to sex and gender. We can be generous or greedy, kind or cruel, loving or bigoted. Statistically, we're smarter than the general population and, on average, more law abiding."

"I would just like to be left alone," she says.

Justin Clemente has a slightly different outlook on things.

"If (as a society) we can't accept each other, how can we accept ourselves?" he says.

"Diversity is honestly the spice of life, and with no spice, life SUCKS!"


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