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Basic Human Rights Apply To All Persons

By Jocelyn Claire Young, citizen contributor

Nov 19, 2018
LGBT Issues

Tuesday, November 20, 2018, is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).  This day is set aside to remember those transgender persons who have been murdered as a result of transphobic acts.  Those transgender persons who have committed suicide or who have been misgendered or misnamed by family and law enforcement because they were victims of some form of violence towards them for who they are must be remembered as well.

This day should help us to realize that all human beings are entitled to basic human rights.  Those basic human rights are food, shelter, clothing, housing, employment, education, health care, respect, and dignity.  There is one other basic human right and that is the right to define one’s own existence.  Former Justice Anthony Kennedy commented in a 2003 decision dealing with gay sexual intimacy, “[a]t the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”[1]  Transgender persons seek acceptance, love and the other basic human rights.  We are no different than anyone else.

Transgender individuals have a right to exist and to be who we are.  Being transgender is not a choice.  This is the way we were born.  The only choice for us is when do we have the courage to be truthful with ourselves about who we are.

By exercising our basic human right to “define [our] own existence” transgender individuals take a risk that society will accept us.  Many times society is accepting.  However, there are times when we are not accepted and that lack of acceptance is the why the Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed.

Jocelyn Claire Young is a Transgender Advocate, Writer and co-founder of The LGBT Center of Greater Reading  

[1] Lawrence v Texas, 539 US 558, 574 (2003), citing to Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA v. Casey, 505 US 833, 851 (1992)

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