"What exactly does it mean to be transgender? Why do they want to change their sex? Why can't they just be gay or lesbian?" These are some of the questions I so ignorantly used to think about transgender people. But I am a firm believer that ignorance must always be replaced by education.
This woman is not only kind, blazingly intelligent, and caring but a forerunner for transgender rights, sex-reassignment surgery (SRS), and male-to-female (MTF) transition. She was the first Briton to undergo SRS and faced terrible complications that nearly led to her death.
I never purposely deceived people. I wanted to live in this new body I was constructing because for the first time in my life, my reflection was starting to match my spirit. I couldn't have been happier, and I wanted to tell the world about it.
I am an African-American transgender woman and will always be true to myself. I strongly disagree that I am out of the will of God. I believe that the truth I live in is a truth that God demands of us.
I hate to go back to Trans 101 material after earlier having been able to use words as complicated as "cissexist" without any explanation, but I want there to be no doubt as to what I'm talking about among people who don't know better or don't want to know better.
It is highly likely that you have passed a transgender person on the street, at the grocery store, in the bank, at the gym, and, yes, even in a public restroom, without even knowing that that person was transgender.
Those who saw Ed Shultz's segment and took it as accurate and representative of the reality of transgender lives would likely be led to believe that all transgender people are gay, that being transgender is just another form of homosexuality.
What if our entire culture, our entire society is experiencing a collective gender anxiety? What if the way society calms that anxiety is by objectifying and stigmatizing transgender and gender-nonconforming people?
The true test for Chaz will be whether he can be seen regularly before a broad American audience in a capacity that has nothing to do with being a transgender man. If he can do that, he will be a pivotal figure in transgender history.
Will Chaz Bono's gig on Dancing with the Stars offend some people? Most definitely. What's more important is the courage that Chaz lends and will continue to lend to others who haven't yet gained the courage to be themselves.