One of the main problems is that many of us don't live around trans people. Growing up, I never had trans people visiting my house. My family doesn't even know any trans people. This invisibility, propagated by the willing and unwitting actions of governments, media and authority figures, perpetuates the isolation of the trans community from mainstream culture.
This week's episode covers discrimination against LGBTI people in Uganda. Cleo is invited to a secret meeting with the Ugandan government to prove that she's real. In the episode I search for an answer to the question of why it's so hard for people to accept anything that doesn't fit into society's norms.
In the fourth episode of The Pearl of Africa, a documentary series about love, hate and being transgender, we get a glimpse into what Cleo and Nelson's relationship really means. They've loved each other since high school and plan to get married in the future, and Cleo grapples with the desire to start a family.
Ms. Leyth Jamal was subjected to a hostile work environment at the Saks department store in the Houston Galleria when she was employed there in 2012. The harassment was typical and brutal: routine misgendering, forcing her to use the men's room, and a general environment grounded in ridicule from her co-workers.
The state is unwilling to define reparative therapy and denial of medical care to transgender youths as abuse. We cannot change what religious leaders are preaching, nor do our voices carry enough weight to effectively gainsay their religious messaging. A radical new direction is needed. Therefore, I propose an emancipation project.
I've been asked many times before if I fear that my son will "change his mind." What if he "decides he wants to be a girl again"? What if I made a mistake by allowing him to transition at such a young age? I know that without walking a mile in my shoes, it's hard to understand. So let's pretend my child wasn't born to be transgender.
This is an opportunity to educate the general population that discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, which encompasses tens of millions of people, is illegal and harmful to the bottom line. This is an opportunity to humanize and overcome ignorance and fear so that there is no desire to deny employment in the first place.
A professional actress, Milla is taking time off to prepare for her "final cut" in Thailand. Her transition is nearly complete, and life right now seems better as completion approaches. But what is "better"? How can I possibly understand? Life as a transgender person is not easy anywhere. In India life for transgender people is hard, but in some ways it is strangely better too.
I've been following Cleo's life up close for 18 months, and we're still shooting. I even moved in with Cleo and her straight boyfriend, Nelson, during one of my trips to Kampala, getting to know them both as human beings and as friends. Having been forced to live apart only to find each other once again in a foreign country, their love story is a true inspiration.
What is most interesting to me is what it's like to be transgender on a daily basis. Is it really that big a deal? Are most people liberal enough to see past one small part of somebody's identity? How does this play out every day? Since I spoke to Freiya, my eyes have opened to things that would not even have occurred to me.
I would like to return to the post that generated the most debate and heat, "Burying the Lede: The LGBT Community's Deafening Silence on Federal Transgender Employment Protections," which provided in-depth background about the most momentous federal trans-rights advance in our history, and the community silence that followed. It struck a chord.