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The next frontier

Victoria's SecretGay marriage has won acceptance by the majority of Americans and is a reality in a growing number of states.

Now it's time to pay more attention to  a segment of the population that still lives in the shadows: people whose personal gender identity doesn't match their assigned sex.

These people are known as "transgender." They are not necessarily homosexual. In fact, they can be gay, lesbian, straight, bi-sexual, or a-sexual. And not all transgender people undergo -- or even want -- sex reassignment surgery. 

And that's just the beginning of  complications, as the Wikipedia entry under "transgender" demonstrates. But two things are certain: (1) most transgender people lead difficult lives and (2) most non-transgender people are uncomfortable around them.

Society needs to resolve a host of issues complicating the lives of transgender people, ranging from pronoun designations (e.g., whether to refer to a transgender man as he, she, them, or some other term) to overt discrimination and hate crimes. But we each have a responsibility to educate ourselves. You can learn the basics here

As I discuss in OtherWise, the rights of transgender people are the new frontier in gender politics. They are our era's "Other." 

And as was the case for gay rights, popular media will be the battle front. Just as "Will and Grace" helped Middle America accept gay men, "Orange Is The New Black" is helping increase understanding of transgender people.  

Next up? It could be Victoria's Secret. The model strutting her stuff above is Carmen Carrera. More than 35,000 people have signed a petition to win her a spot as the first transgender "Angel" on the label's next runway show. 

 

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