This Tuesday, October 2, Planet Transgender and The Dallas Peace and Justice Center will co-sponsor our First Tuesday film. At 7 PM you will be given the opportunity to view Denial, a film about Christine Hallquist, the first transgender woman to transition while CEO of a corporation. Ms. Hallquist is now also the first openly transgender candidate to win the Democratic nomination for governor of Vermont.
The film begins with David Hallquist lobbying for a change in the use of fossil fuels and climate change. As it progresses it transitions as David accepts that there cannot be any change in the outer world unless those who fight for it come to terms with who they are inside. And so, the audience is taken on another journey of exploration as Christine emerges.
In this film, you get a glimpse of the tremendous amount of courage it takes when someone born one gender is compelled to admit that’s not what nature truly intended. Today, as a gubernatorial candidate, Christine is faced with increasing hatred and death threats from those who fear how her gender might affect change in the larger sense.
In the United States alone 21 transgender people have been murdered this year (as of September 18). That number may not even be accurate as some victims may have been misgendered after death. Most are transgender women.
Usually, a child is aware of which gender they identify with by the time they are fairly young. With no support from loved ones or friends, they face a slippery slope of drug abuse, physical violence, homelessness, and high-risk sex acts. In 2015 the largest percentage of new HIV diagnoses were among transgender women. And, among all gender identity groups, the highest risk of suicide is among transgender boys. At least 51% of these teens attempt to kill themselves.
Thankfully, the State of California and the American Association of Pediatrics are listening. On September 17, the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed a mandate dictating care for foster children there to have access to all the medical treatment needed to affirm their identity. (https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2018/9/17/first-california-mandates-gender-affirming-care-foster-youth). This care includes anything pertinent to transitioning from mental health care to surgery.
In the October issue of Pediatrics, the AAP has published their own policy change statement “Ensuring Comprehensive Care and Support of Transgender and Gender Diverse Children and Adolescents.” This is an effort to eliminate bias within the medical community. Within the document, they affirm several things. Among these they state:
• It is not a mental illness
• Variations in identity and expression are normal aspects of human diversity and binary definitions do not always reflect emerging identities;
• Gender identity evolves as the interplay of biology, development, socialization, and culture;
• If a mental health issue exists it often stems from stigma and negative experiences.
It is also to be noted that the statement speaks strongly against the Conversion Therapy often promoted by the more Conservative religions. (You can read this statement online at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2018/09/13/peds.2018-2162)
While we sometimes get caught up in what’s going wrong in the world and the current dangers, it is certainly worth noting that, despite it all, we seem to be headed in the right direction in creating a world where all our children will be safe and respected. As we think about this we must also remember to thank those pioneering transgenders, such as Christine Hallquist, who are showing us the way.
Our next post will be about Hallquist’s battle to effect environmental change.
(We do not represent or promote any particular candidate in this election. This film is for informational purposes in regard to transgender issues, climate change and how they came together for one person.)