By Emma Kaohi | The Broadside (Contact: email@example.com)
“Why do you have to say ‘no homo’ before you say x, y, and z?” According to the University of California’s school of law, an estimated 1.4 million people, about 0.6% of the population, identify as transgender in the United States. However, in Oregon, about 0.65% of the population identifies as transgender, or an approximate 19,750 people.
In a panel discussion on Wednesday, October 25th in the Boyle Education Center, guest speakers Jamie, Bree, Trinity, and Rob called attention to transgender issues, triumphs, and their hopeful future for the transgender community.
Jamie, a mother of two young transgender boys, shared her insights on raising children in the transgender community. “Why do we raise little boys to play with trucks and little girls to play with dolls?,” she questioned.
Jamie also spoke about the issues that parents of transgender children face, including the backlash from those who do not support her decision to allow her young children to be transgender.
According to Professor Rebecca Walker Sands, a person can know they are transgender as young as two years old, and can receive hormone blocker to stop puberty of the gender assigned at birth. “The three parts of the brain that affect the way a transgender person thinks are the medial preoptic area, the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus, and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis.”
Also on the panel, Trinity, a transgender woman, shared her experience of discovering she was transgender. “I went from high school into the military so I never had a college experience, but that was a while a go.”
Similar to Trinity, Rob, a transgender male, discovered he was transgender out of college. “Instead of telling my peers, I was telling my coworkers,” Rob explained, “ I had to tell HR so I could receive medical [coverage].”
However, both Trinity and Rob agree that had they been currently in college, the experience would certainly be easier than those of previous years. “I’m so happy for this generation,” Trinity stated, “Things are changing for the better.”
The age group of 18 through 24, is more likely than older age groups to identify as transgender, this age group being the most common in college settings.
“COCC has done so much already, especially with the gender neutral bathrooms,” Rob added. Central Oregon Community College currently has gender neutral bathrooms in nine buildings on campus, including the Residence Hall.
Maddie Hunt, a first-year at COCC, just became aware of the gender neutral bathrooms, noticing a flyer hung up on campus where all locations are listed.
“I think it’s super cool there’s gender neutral bathrooms, super progressive of COCC to do something like that for the transgender community,” Hunt noted.
Bree, a transgender woman speaking at the panel, also stated that although she did not attend college, things are only getting better. “It’s a lot better in this day and age, I’m happy with the progress.”
In addition to the gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, COCC is “committed to providing a safe and respectful learning and working environment for members of the LGBTQ community and its allies,” according to the COCC website.
COCC also has a LGBTQ club which meets on Fridays at 10:30 a.m. in the Multicultural Center in the Coats Campus Center. ■