People Need To Open Their Minds About Transgender, Genderfluid, Genderqueer, Non-binary Individuals

   I’m going to be up front about the fact that I am queer with a fluid sexuality (bisexual+) and a fluid gender (genderfluid). As such, I unfortunately have first-hand experience about how so many cisgendered people often have a serious lack of understanding with regards to genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, and transgender (GfNT) individuals. This in turn leads to intolerance and prejudice.
   Maybe I should start with explaining who we are. A transgender person is an individual who identifies as the opposite gender than the person was physically born with. For example: a transgender woman was born physically male but identifies as a woman. Transitioning is the process of trying to get her physical body to match how she identifies. A non-binary person is someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female. They don’t relate with the traditional male/female binary. A genderfluid individual is someone whose gender identity is fluid. A mixture of male, female, and in between. How much they feel one way as compared to the others can fluctuate one minute to the next. Thus, the fluid aspect of the term. Genderqueer refers to individuals who don’t subscribe (either fully or in part) to the traditional gender binary. Clearly, there is overlap and interconnection with some of these terms, and many GfNT people will use more than one to describe themselves.
   Often, people fear, ridicule, and make fun of things that they don’t understand or are uncomfortable with. This is especially common among cisgendered individuals with regards to GfNT people. But when a person makes fun of and ridicules a community that is hurting and suffering, it worsens the pain and intolerance that community is already being forced to endure.  It reinforces and exacerbates the lack of understanding and prejudice that is so pervasive in this society.
   Consider this: many GfNT people are afraid to use public restrooms because of the risk of verbal and even physical abuse. Using public restrooms is something cisgendered people take for granted. Dating is another area that GfNT individuals such as myself often find brutally difficult because most cisgendered people won’t even consider dating us, even if they were interested before realizing our gender identity. The result of all this is that too many GfNT people feel very isolated and alone. Studies have shown that the transgender community suffers higher rates of depression and suicide than the cisgendered community. This is obviously connected to intolerance, prejudice, lack of understanding, isolation, and loneliness.
   For things to get better, people need to educate themselves and open their minds. Put themselves in other people’s shoes so to speak. Imagine being afraid of the simple act of using a public restroom. Think about how hard it would be going through life feeling isolated and alone because you are trying to be true to who you are. If more members of the cisgender community would do this, perhaps there would be fewer ridiculing and making hurtful jokes about the GfNT community.