Having spent a considerable and unfortunate amount of time around bigoted people, I came to a rather interesting train of thought that I want to share widely.
Let me start by asking you a simple question: would you treat a woman differently based on whether or not she had an appendectomy performed? What about a man who was born with six toes; would it change your opinion of him whether or not he had it removed? For the vast majority of people, and even the bigoted crowd that inspired this train of thought, the answer would be a resounding no: who are we to judge someone based on a corrective procedure they had to repair a defect with their body?
Okay, now here's a similar and still simple question: would you treat a woman differently based on whether or not she had her penis removed?
"Stop," I hear some of you calling. "That is a completely separate subject," you ration. Why?
What makes the correction of a birth defect involving sex organs any different from correcting birth defects or ailments with any other organ? Are we, as a culture and society, so hyperfocused on sexuality that we can't accept some people have congenital genital defects?
I have begun to wonder why trans equality and trans rights are even being discussed or even exist; that is like stating we need kidney failure equality or diabetic rights. They are all life-long conditions, involve a part of the body being defective, and often require surgery. What is so offensive, so different, so awful about a person having incorrect sex organs? The fault lies with those people who 'other' people who suffer from transsexuality, labelling them and saying they are different or somehow less of a person due to a birth defect.
There have been numerous studies that have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the brain can develop independently of primary sex organs, and that the brain can and does sometimes end up with the wiring of the gender opposite that with which a person is born. It is not a "mental disorder" in that there is no psychological problem; the brain is that of a man or woman, in a woman or man's body. Why should it matter what organs they have?
You can argue that reproduction is a factor, and you may even be right for a few years; but there are numerous research programmes being done as you read this to find a way to reproduction for people with all manner of reproductive organ troubles. Transsexuality is a subset of that; but some women are born without ovaries, some men are born with undescended testes, and so on. Why should we treat people who were born with the wrong set of organs any different from people born with any other problem?
The way I see it, the labelling itself - the fact that people who have this condition are considered a different kind of person - is the problem. It is a medical disorder akin to spina bifida or cleft palette, not a label or category of people. I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would discriminate against a person for having cleft palette; after all, it isn't their fault, they were born that way. Why should we treat transsexuals any differently?
To a final point, some may also claim that you must have the surgery performed to count as a "true" transsexual. This belief is wrong for a number of reasons. In the same way some people cannot have cleft palette corrected - their body may not be capable of undergoing surgery; they may be allergic to anaesthesia; they may not be able to afford the cost of surgery; and in some communities where healthcare is not readily accessible, they may not even know that a treatment even exists. The same factors can apply to a man with a vagina or a woman with a penis. Some of these people are still able to use hormonal therapy (also known as HRT) to correct at least some of their attributes to more correctly fit with their gender and feel better, while others are unable to obtain even that small amount of help. Instead of ostracising them, we should be embracing them. We must begin to acknowledge that we as a society should be caring for those who have real, physical ailments instead of antagonising them.
After all, wouldn't you want compassion if you had a birth defect? What about a birth defect that perhaps even persisted in to adulthood or even beyond? Open your heart and mind, and show your fellow people dignity and respect.