At the end of October, a report was released from the White House in America which stated that the definition of gender in civil rights law as an immutable, biological, and binary category that is determined at birth. As expected, this led to a huge public outcry, through the hashtag #wontbeerased.
It is quite shocking that in 2018, in a country such as America, there would be such a decision which purely aims at erasing the identities of around 1.2% to 6.8% people in that very same country. This is especially true if we consider the psychological implications of this.
Recognizing and accepting one’s identity is a human need. When this need is denied, so when one’s identity is erased or disregarded, this can cause significant psychological distress. A study conducted with trans people found that the more frequently their gender identity was denied, the more stress and depression they experienced.
Research has also found that anti-discrimination policies are of the utmost importance. It was found that these policies not only serve to empower people who experience such discrimination, but also those who could be targets. This is because policies give minorities legal, as well as symbolic, power. To further prove this point, people who live in states in America which have anti-discrimination policies in relation to trans individuals, report that they are less likely to experience mood disorders, or to self-harm.
When people are supported to be their true selves, they thrive.
McLemore, K. A. (2018). A minority stress perspective on transgender individuals’ experiences with misgendering. Stigma and Health, 3(1), 53-64.
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on email@example.com or call us on 79291817.