As far as Greek mythology goes, transgender people were as commonly accepted as they ought to be in the present age. Though the contemporary transitioning period is generally quicker, these stories have a startling impact on trans-culture today:
“Originally assigned female at birth and named Caenis, he was abducted by Poseidon, who fell in love with him. Afterwards, Poseidon promised to grant any wish to him and Caenis wished to have a man’s body. Not only did Poseidon grant this, he also granted Caenis impenetrable skin. Soon, Caenis changed his name into Caeneus.”
An amazing detail of this opening is that Caeneus didn’t ask for impenetrable skin, he was just so mesmerising that Poseidon said: ‘I’ll give you one wish. Okay, two. Just for you.’ It’s like a guy offering to buy you a vodka-lemonade and he comes back with Belvedere and freshly squeezed juice.
But transgender people deserve to be appreciated for so much more than just this myth. When there are countless people doing remarkable things for their community, the world or their industry, what it is that facilitates their gender becomes a rather trivial detail. This is the month of transgender awareness and there are now many people in the limelight who we can look up to.
21 year-old Eli Erlick is someone who has made the safety and comfort of other transgender people very much her business. At age 13, she transitioned from male to female and at age 16 she co-founded the Trans Student Educational Resources. TSER is an organisation in the US that seeks to end violence against transgender students in education.
Laverne Cox is most famous for her role as Sophia Burset on Orange Is The New Black. Cox was the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and the first transgender person since 1990’s Angela Morley to be nominated for an Emmy Award at all. She has since become an advocate and frontrunner for the LGBT+, though especially focusing on transgender rights.
Roberta Elizabeth Marshall Cowell was someone who clearly defied the stereotype that ‘women can’t drive’. She was not only a racing driver but also a World War II pilot, an inspiration in her field. Cowell was the first known British transsexual woman to undergo gender reassignment surgery on 15th May 1951, back when the risk of an untested surgery was certain death.
Ben Barres is an American neurobiologist and very well-accredited in his field. He has developed and created work focusing on interaction between neurons and glial cells in the nervous system. He has been Chair of the Neurobiology department at the Stanford University School of Medicine for 8 years and became the first openly transgender scientist in the US National Academy of Sciences for 3 years.
There are many people who we read about, see on TV and film and also pass in the street day to day who have lived with the struggle of people not accepting who they are, which is why this month is one of awareness. Just because they may be living as a gender that they were not born into does not mean they should be treated any differently.