This shouldn’t have to be stated, but unfortunately it does. Transgender people are not a caricature. They are not a stereotype. They are not a political pawn. And they are not a threat to you or your values. They are human. Just. Like. You.
Imagine feeling homesick in your own body. Imagine having to fight for your God-given right to be who you are and be treated with dignity. Imagine walking into a restaurant with fear about whether you will be served. Imagine holding your pee as long as possible, or running home to use the bathroom, because you don’t know if you will be violently attacked for doing the extremely human function of relieving yourself. Imagine not being able to get lifesaving medical care because a doctor refuses to touch you. Imagine believing that if you live as your authentic self, you will never be able to realize your dreams.
Sarah McBride does a powerful job of inviting readers into her life as we walk with her through all of those feelings and the fight be treated as human in Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and The Fight for Trans Equality.
It’s unfortunately all to easy, especially in this political climate, to see transgender equality as an issue to debate theoretically or theologically. But Sarah’s vulnerability in sharing her life with us reminds readers that this is not some ethereal issue, this is about humans and their ability to live with authenticity and dignity.
Many cisgender people (someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth), don’t understand being transgender, and there are many misconceptions about what it means. We have only been exposed to fear, hate, caricatures, and misinformation. That is one of the reasons I wanted to read this book.
Sarah describes this empathy gap this way:
She also shares her fears. And sadly the same stereotypes and sitcom laugh tracks that inspire bigotry, also tell transgender people that their identity is invalid.
Sarah invites us into her story of becoming herself, finding love, experiencing heartbreaking loss, finding her voice, and then using that voice to advocate for the rights and humanity of transgender people at local, state, and federal levels.
Gender identity is the only way of being a human that the United States of America still sanctions discrimination against. Through Sarah and other’s work, much of that began to change. But sadly, hate doesn’t go down without a fight, and much of the work they fought for is being rolled back by the current administration. This is not OK. And sanctioning discrimination in the name of Jesus is wrong. Period.
During the fight for full equality in Delaware, The Delaware Family Policy Council called on conservative mothers to come to the senate and speak fear and hate towards transgender people in an attempt to stop the bill.
The hate and vitriol was so disgusting that one of the mothers approached Sarah in the hallway of the State House and asked her if she had had the surgery yet. (None of your damn business by the way!) Then she threatened her that if she saw Sarah in the women’s bathroom, this woman would cut off her penis.
I don’t care what you think the Bible says about being transgender; I promise you it doesn’t say threaten people with violence for taking a pee!
Christians, let’s talk for a minute.
Do you think that Jesus is asking us to act in a way that drives people to suicide? Do you think Jesus wants us to kick our children out into the street? Do you think Jesus is asking us to vote in a way that forces other humans to fear existing in public spaces? Do you think Jesus wants us to treat each other in any other way besides love? (Spoiler Alert: The answer is NO.) So let’s look at some sobering statistics Sarah shares in the book:
- “While 41 percent of transgender people had attempted suicide, that number dropped by half when the transgender person was supported by their family. And it dropped even further when they were also embraced by their community” (Page 29).
- “Family rejection of a child coming out is one of the leading factors in the high rate of homelessness among LGBTQ young people, who make up as many as 40 percent of all homeless youth” (Page 32).
- “One survey found that among transgender people who had interacted with a police officer who thought or knew they were transgender, 58 percent reported mistreatment” (Page 132).
- “In one survey, 70 percent of transgender people reported experiencing some form of discrimination in a health-care setting, including health-care professionals refusing to touch patients” (Page 149).
- “One in four transgender people reported being fired from their job simply because of their gender identity. A quarter of same-sex couples experienced housing discrimination in one survey. More than half of LGBTQ students reported feeling unsafe in schools because of their sexual orientation, and roughly one third feel unsafe because of their gender according to the student advocacy group GLSEN” (Pages 223-224).
Transgender equality should not be a debate. It’s not an issue. It’s a group of people. Let’s start treating them that way.
This book should be on the to-read list of everyone who believes that equality for all people means ALL people. It will give you hope. And experiencing Sarah discover and use her voice will empower you to discover and use your own.
This book should be required reading for everyone who believes that they have a right to tell someone where or how they can eat, sleep, work, and live simply because they don’t fit your definition of what it means to be human.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. My opinions are my own.