On the topic of transgenderism I declare myself to be naive, even ignorant, yet also profoundly persuaded by the courage of transgendered people.
Contrary to what some might think, gays don't have any inside information on the subject. I'm gay and have been in a relationship with a man for nearly forty-five years, but I've never known a transgendered person personally. Or maybe I have, their transition having been so successful I didn't even notice.
Unlike some folks who remember their school years, particularly high school, as a time of carefree joy, I recall a time of no small personal insecurity, when kids transition into adulthood and adult sexuality, amid fears of fitting in, being too fat or too skinny, pretty or not, too pimply or unpopular, or having sex for the first time. In my case I had to deal with the trifecta of trying to learn English, being the only Latino in my high school and being gay.
Yet I cannot imagine the travail of transgendered kids, who during their childhood or teenage years realize the sex checked on their birth certificate is the wrong one, and how they work through that reality with uncomprehending parents and school officials and classmates, and in some cases embark on hormone therapy and other medical interventions to reconcile their anatomies with their true gender identity. The strength of their personal conviction gives a new meaning to the Shakespearean injunction, "To thine own self be true."
Such transition takes a degree of self-awareness and courage I cannot imagine. These folks are not to be scorned, ostracized much less pitied, but rather admired and supported.
Instead we have national debate, supposedly about which bathroom transgendered students should use. Part of it I suspect is a rearguard campaign by conservative and religious groups not yet reconciled to the sea change in popular sentiment and the legal recognition of gay rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Arguments against acceptance of transgender people sometimes draw on the Bible—"God does not make mistakes" presumably including the sex with which a person is born—or fears of grown-up perverts entering the girls bathrooms to oogle at young girls. The latter scenario was used by Sen. Ted Cruz in commercials during the presidential primary. Shame on him. Are we ever going to tire of politics as an exercise in beating up on people different from ourselves?
It is transgendered kids who are in imminent danger, particularly from being bullied and tormented inside and outside of the school environments. In fact the rate of attempted suicides among transgendered youth is staggering, as high as thirty percent according to one study.
The protection of transgendered people shouldn't be left to vagaries of local interpretations and prejudices. As with any other types of individual rights, discrimination against transgendered people should be banned at the federal level.
I doubt I will ever fully understand the reasons behind the phenomenon of transgenderism, gender dysphoria and so on, and the anguish transgendered people must go through. But I am quite certain that they are individuals deserving of respect and admiration. They have mine.