I know nothing.
I have to remind myself of this constantly. There is always more to learn. I think part of the reason there is so much discrimination against people of color, the LGBT community, people who have disabilities, those who have chronic illnesses, or any other minority is because we, as people, often think we know ALL their is to know.
And it makes sense. If I’m going to feel confident enough to make a decision, say, to have Chinese food for dinner or to wear a red dress, I have to come to the conclusion that the food is good and the dress looks pretty.
We observe the world around us, we draw conclusions (usually as quickly as possible), and we make choices. The problem, as far as discrimination is concerned, is that conclusions are drawn and choices are made that affect OTHER PEOPLE. Often entire communities of people at that.
Many cisgender people won’t feel the need to learn much about the trans community because the issues within this community don’t seem to affect those who see themselves existing outside of it. But trust me, they affect everyone.
Because by brushing off issues that don’t seem to affect us personally, we allow ourselves to live in one of the darkest places in the universe, and that is in a place of ignorance.
The problem with this place is that it’s like a Russian Matryoshka doll. On the outside, one is ignorant of a particular thing or culture. Then, going deeper, that person is probably not even aware of how ignorant they actually are. That person may be ignorant of their own ignorance! (This is not a criticism of other people while I sit comfy and well-educated on my high horse. I have been in this dark place. Most of us have, if not all of us.)
So, what happens? People glance at issues within the trans community, they feel they know everything they need to know, and right away, they determine the dress is not pretty. They toss the item aside, knowing they don’t want to wear it, and just like that, people are afraid to let transgender people use the damn bathroom that matches their gender.
Human rights are not a dress. They’re not as simple as determining whether we should have Chinese food or pizza for dinner. We have to think, learn, do research, LISTEN, and understand before we make choices that determine another person’s quality of life.
No matter how much I educate myself, there is always more to learn. No one knows what it’s like to be Black, or trans, or gay, or Hispanic, or Native American, or Muslim, or Indian more than the actual people in those respective groups. (Not to mention that each individual experiences life and views their identity in their own way.)
People should be respected for who they are, not policed. They should be listened to, not ignored. Because the fact is, no matter who you are, ignorance affects us all. The opposite of this is not tolerance. It is kindness. We can’t always understand each other, but we can listen, we can learn, and we can respect each other’s differences.
At least, that’s what I think. But like I said, I know nothing.