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This is what it's like being a transgender teen in Orange


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The recent election campaign saw transgender people used as political pawns, following former prime minister Scott Morrison's decision to back Katherine Deves as the candidate for Warringah, despite her use on social media of divisive and hurtful language to describe medical procedures in transitioning.


Tim* (not his real name) is a transgender teenager living in Orange. This is his story.


 

There’s no doubt, as our society has become more progressive, that transgender people have been able to express themselves more than ever before.


We as trans people have overcome tremendous scrutiny and persecution and slowly built our foundations in order to be merely tolerated by the general public, yet we are continuously used as political punching bags in elections, sports and schools.


Trans people have always been easy targets. Scapegoats. The target of general gossip.

Our voices are minimised by harmful myths that make it more difficult for our political concerns to be heard.



Myths such as "all transgender women are just pretending in order to prey on cisgender women". Or that they "transition in order to excel in women’s sports" - an idea that seemed to have the backing of our previous prime minister Scott Morrison.





And misleading and, honestly, dangerous claims of "mutilation" and "irreversible procedures on children" that are used as fear-mongering tactics.


They further encourage our exclusion and leave us with nowhere to feel safe. Not in our homes, our schools, our sports teams, our courts. Nowhere.


When our leaders prioritise using the rights of trans people as a topic for debate, it facilitates some cisgender people to ostracise us more than they already do. The public fears us, and we fear them.

Being a 16-year-old trans man who was sure enough of himself to come out at age 12, I'm left with such conflicting ideas of myself and how I’m perceived by others.



I have a deep love for my identity and community; I love the friends it's given me; and I love the knowledge it’s given me.





The complex ideas of gender and gender presentation are hot topics among me and other trans people I surround myself with. We have an overwhelming connection to the boundless reaches of gender as a concept, and this knowledge brings me great comfort.


The discomfort comes in when you watch the people around you actively believe and enforce these falsities about your own community, and you start to feel like you’ll never, ever be able to balance being happy, safe and transgender at the same time.


It comes when you’ve just turned 13 and are finally "out" in school, and groups of boys hurl bloodthirsty, heated threats your way on a daily basis, recruiting others to do the same until you have no one left.

It comes when this behaviour is exacerbated by our most influential politicians and media outlets openly advocating against us and our rights.



It comes when young trans people see this discussion and this harassment and they end up living their lives in terror, or discomfort with who they are seen as, and who they really are.





It comes when you quite literally cannot see a future for yourself because of the pure hatred that seethes from the pores of our leaders.

The impact on us is immeasurable and it's both terrifying and painful to be treated with such abhorrence.


I, among most other trans people, spend so much time trying to appease cisgender people, catering to how they want me to be.


I over-analyse everything about myself, my speech, my appearance, down to my handwriting being a little too girly.



When the media portrays transgender people as “crazy sjws" [social justice warriors], easily offended, over-the-top and attention seeking, I try my hardest to not be seen as one of those trans people, which pains me everyday, because I envy the courage of those trans people to express themselves, their identity and their ideas of gender so freely.


It was those trans people that got me here today, and it leaves me with a deep shame when I don’t honour them, even if it’s best for my safety.

All of us should be able to openly be who we are without facing the stigma or scrutiny created by the use of us as political fodder.






It is more than unfair on us to be used as target practice for the media and government to both distract Australia from our true concerns, and to instil hatred towards transgender people in our supposedly accepting country.



This takes us a thousand steps back and undoes so much of the work elder trans people have done for us.


It is bound to have a detrimental effect on the acceptance, social life and mental health of trans people.


We make up such a small percent of the population that I can absolutely promise you that we are not taking over your sports, we are not forcing our "queer agenda" onto your children, and we are most certainly not asking anyone to put us on a pedestal.

We want our identities and exclusion taken seriously, and not used as political punching bags for the benefit of sick individuals with nothing better to do.

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