Open Letter to People who say Hurtful Things About Caitlyn Jenner

n-CAITYN-large570After seeing the horrible way people are talking about transgender people like Caitlyn Jenner this week, and some of it from people on my FB feed, I have to say something.
Your words have consequences. They affect other people. When you talk about transgender people and say they are just “men dressing like women” or that they aren’t brave for publicly being themselves, you show your ignorance of the issues they face as well as a lack of empathy for the incredible hardships and social stigma they have to deal with every single day. You don’t realize that you are part of the reason why coming out of the closet makes them brave. I’m not trying to put anyone down for their beliefs, only pointing out that the way those beliefs are being expressed is causing immense pain to others. You can believe what you want without using those beliefs as a stick to beat others with, without putting people down for not fitting your religion’s standards or ideals.
Yes, I’m mad. I’m mad because I see how frustrating this is for my friends who happen to be transgender, among many other wonderful things, but people only see their gender identity and not the amazing complete person they are. I’m mad because people think that they can discredit and belittle someone’s gender identity because they think their religion is against it. I’m mad because I just read about another transgender teen who committed suicide because of these hurtful attitudes, and yet another transgender person that someone tried to shove in front of a subway train just for being different.
Your words have power. You can build people up or tear them down. You may not mean to be hurting them, you might think you’re being “righteous” by saying they are bad or their identity isn’t valid, but when you talk about transgender people in hurtful ways YOU are contributing to a society that treats them terribly socially, resulting in a 66% risk of violence for them.
Your religion is no excuse to hurt or demean others with your words and attitudes. Saying their gender identity doesn’t exist, or that it’s evil, is beyond hurtful. If you don’t understand it, then be honest about it and start educating yourself. But PLEASE stop perpetuating the stigmas that are literally causing teenagers to kill themselves and causes people to assault and hate transgender people. It needs to stop, and change begins with every one of us.

A few of the tragic results of your “freedom of speech”:
Hurtful versions of Christianity: Defend sexual abusers as long as they pray a prayer and say they’re sorry, but demean and invalidate people with a gender identity or sexual orientation that they don’t understand or approve of. Even if it drives them to depression and suicide. As long as they don’t appear to condone “sin”, who cares who they hurt with their words and actions.