Humanists consider issues with careful thinking and thoughtful caring and promote “liberty and justice for all.” Our willingness to question faith, authority, and tradition puts Humanists at the forefront in challenging discrimination. Humanists can also be strong allies for transgender people. Transgender people have an internal sense of gender identity that is different from that person’s physical sex, and their lives are seriously impacted.
Unquestioned religious authority creates some difficulty. For example, Genesis 5:2 claims that God creates people “male and female,” and Genesis 3:16 claims that God puts a curse on women saying “man will rule over you.” Two forms of sexism appear in the plain meaning of these verses. The first form of sexism suggests that there are only two fixed and unchangeable male and female genders. The second form of sexism is that one gender must exercise power while another shows submissiveness. Although common, these forms of sexism contradict the facts of biology and the sense of justice.
Our society traditionally insists that there be rigid boundries separating people into powerful men and youthfully submissive women. For all of us, boundries based on gender guide ways to speak, move, think, and relate to others and can change interests, groups, activities, romantic relationships, and careers. The boundries for gender encourage people to exaggerate characteristics related to power and secondary sex characteristics and to ignore real differences among people. Gender boundries can limit life options for men and women, and also for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people whose internal sense of attraction does not fit the societally dictated boundries.
Gender boundries create severe difficulties for people who are transgender and must also find ways to identify for birth certificates, passports, job applications, driver’s licenses, marriage licensing, and even use of bathrooms. Medical professionals may not be prepared to help people transition to make bodily appearance fit the gender they feel themselves to be, and insurance companies typically deny coverage. Transgender people may face loss of power, hostility, prejudice, violence, discrimination, poverty, and often the lack of legal protection.