We Need To Talk About Gender Identity And Mental Health
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Health and Wellness

We Need To Talk About Gender Identity And Mental Health

It's an important conversation that can't wait any longer.

We Need To Talk About Gender Identity And Mental Health
Caitlin Gagnon

This past February, the Trump administration withdrew a law granting students the freedom to use whichever bathroom best matched up with the gender they identify as. The World Health Organization still considers identifying as transgender a “mental illness.”

Self-identity confusion is still treated as a disease, as unnatural. Despite the huge strides that have undoubtedly been taken over the past years to enlighten society about the barriers of gender norms, there is still far more work to be done. And why is it so important that those who choose not to conform to gender stereotypes feel accepted-- or are at least treated as human beings? Because the result is intense psychological pressure that can lead to extreme mental illnesses.

Studies show that about 48 to 62 percent of transgender-identifying individuals suffer from depression, while 26 to 38 percent report at least some anxiety or mental distress. Mental illness is a strenuous battle all on its own-- but transgender sufferers must also face being shunned by society, being made to feel inferior, and being oppressed by their country’s ignorant administration. Such makes dealing with one’s gender identity and the mental distress that comes from such identity all the more agonizing and potentially life-threatening-- a fact our society still tends to overlook.

So the question remains-- how do we fix this? How can we rewrite our age-old preconceptions that demean and humiliate those who wish to break their gender roles?

When one can see this abstract idea of “gender” as simply a social construct built by society throughout history, it is easier to break down the implications of gender barriers. These obstacles are not necessary. For instance, a small island located in the Pacific Ocean, Samoa, recognizes three different types of gender: men, women, and “Fa’afafine,” which translates to “in the way of a woman."

On Samoa, these “Fa’afafine” are boys being raised as girls or men living as women. The choice of this third gender is widely accepted within their society.

Of course, there are more ways of expressing gender identity than simply “men identifying as women”; however, this general approach to gender shows an alternative way of viewing gender and the part that society plays in relation to the topic.

The answer to an immensely complicated question is simple. Rather than placing the blame on gender non-conforming people for the mental difficulties they face, we should instead-- as a society-- do anything we can to eliminate the strains that put such people and their psychological health under chronic pressure.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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