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There's no excuse for transgender prejudice, says Bury St Edmunds student Millie King, 16

Transphobia. The very word will already have sparked a dozen shades of opinion and emotion among readers. It is defined as a range of negative attitudes, feelings or action towards transgender, transsexual people or transsexuality. In very simple terms, people assigned as men at birth who identify as women, and vice-versa.

For some, it might be first time they have seen the word. For others, it might be a horrible reality they live with every day. Society is always changing and as part of the latest new generation charged with fixing the mistakes of the past, this seems to be high on our agenda.

That the word transphobia came into the dictionary in the 1990s was one step forward. When a word is coined for a prejudice, it reflects the fact that it has been recognised as such. Once there is a word for the phobia, it is rightly being spoken of as something negative and the very word itself helps to change attitudes. But there is a long way to go.

Transgender debate
Transgender debate

It became hot news again late last year, as Parliament scrutinised the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, which gave transgender people all sorts of rights but left them facing a wall of bureaucracy and demeaning hoops to jump through before they could access those rights. Society has been questioning their ability to really know their own minds…whether they are real men or real women and how they should be treated in public spaces.

There are all sorts of examples of how trans people suffer at the hands of society. They must have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria – the distress of being assigned the wrong gender at birth. This can take years. Imagine being denied something so important for years. Trans women are refused access to women’s facilities, even though the Act says they have the right to use them, and there have been public cases where a trans person has been bullied by others using the wrong personal pronouns just to hurt them. No possible excuse exists for such behaviour in 2019.

It does not matter if you were ‘raised’ to hold prejudices against certain groups. It is no excuse. They are still prejudices and they are still wrong. Likewise, harbouring a prejudice because of your religion, does not make it okay. It is still a prejudice. Religion is not an all-access pass to be cruel to other human beings.

We tend to think that things are getting better for all sorts of minorities, including LGBT people, but some still live with such a fear of mockery and discrimination that they cannot come out and be honest about who they are.

Of course, it’s a big ask to expect everyone to be accepting. It seems to be human nature to just target what you don’t understand. But that’s another point – you don’t need to get something to accept it. You don’t understand transsexuals? So what? It doesn’t make them wrong. Just mind your own business. Just let people live their lives how they want to.

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