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Ethical Issues of the Transgender Rights Essay

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Updated: Jun 17th, 2021


One of the most significant burdens transgender people experience is the recognition of their identity. The lack of accurate documents among transgender individuals can affect various spheres of their lives, including such vital areas as emergency housing. With the help of proper ID, it is easier to obtain official recognition in legal and social settings (Levasseur, 2015). Also, accurate IDs help to minimize discrimination, violence, and harassment.

Without identification, transgender people cannot travel, register for important facilities, or access public services. Therefore, it is crucial to improve the situation with transgender individuals’ access to gaining documents. Various obstacles to such a process exist, the major one being the demand of some states to produce evidence of medical transition. The problem is that many transgender people do not want to undergo such a transformation.

Thus, requiring this of them is the deprivation of their rights. Another difficulty is that the operation is extremely expensive, and many people cannot afford it even if they want to have it done. Another difficulty for ID transition may be the fee for processing new documents, which is time-consuming and costly. While the US had made some attempts to simplify the process of changing identity for transgender people, there are still many unresolved issues.

For instance, Levasseur (2015) notes that the rules for changing gender-marker designations are complicated. In many cases, one can only change the gender marker on some IDs, such as passport or driver’s license. Meanwhile, other documents, including a birth certificate or a Medicaid card, remain unchanged (Levasseur, 2015). It is highly crucial to draw legislators’ attention to this problem since transgender people should have the right to change their identity if that makes them feel more secure and confident.

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Although some attempts on the part of legislators have already been made, these efforts cannot be regarded as sufficient for the provision of satisfactory conditions to transgender people. In 2013, California passed legislation guaranteeing transgender students “access to interscholastic sports, gym classes, locker rooms and bathrooms based on their gender identity, irrespective of their biological sex” (Drescher & Pula, 2014, p. S17).

Nevertheless, the legislation is now being challenged in the courts, many states, and even the federal government denying access to care and civil rights protections to transgender people. Winter et al. (2016) also remarked that transgender individuals’ right to health is not being promoted at a sufficient level. Still, at least some recommendations have been developed regarding medical treatment of transgender adults. Meanwhile, no expert clinical consensus has been reached in relation to prepubescent children meeting diagnostic criteria for gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria (Drescher & Pula, 2014).

Since no randomized controlled treatment studies of such children have been performed, the American Psychiatric Association Task Force on the Treatment of Gender Identity came up with the following solution. According to the task force, “the highest level of evidence available for treatment recommendations for these children can best be characterized as expert opinion” (Drescher & Pula, 2014, p. S17).

However, experts argue that such an approach may be harmful. In particular, boys that are not allowed to dress like princesses and play with dolls can grow up to become transsexual adults, which can cause more serious problems. Therefore, to increase the chances for transgender adults’ health care, it is important to pay thorough attention to any signs of dysphoria in children.

Viewing transgender politics as body politics is yet another complicated issue for discussion. As Miller et al. (2017) remark, transgender identity “inherently involves” body politics, particularly how transgender individuals may physically represent their gender in ways that are not correspondent with their assigned sex at birth (p. 4). Still, political conduct research on transgender rights treatment leaves out the role of transgender bodies in shaping such treatment.

Unfortunately, such negative issues as disgust sensitivity and authoritarianism have an influence on transgender rights attitudes. In 2015, Houston voters rejected the HERO proposition: Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. The main slogan of the opponents was “no men in women’s bathrooms,” which expressed an antagonistic attitude toward transgender people (Miller et al., 2017, p. 4). The attitude of the opponents is representative of many Americans’ views on transgender individuals. Unfortunately, there are still many citizens who consider transgender individuals as “filthy,” “unsafe,” and “disgusting” (Wright, 2015, para. 3).

Such a way of addressing transgender individuals is cruel and should not be allowed. Every human being has the right to express their preferences, and transgender people are not an exception. Depriving these individuals of the opportunity to identify themselves with particular sex is inhumane. Miller et al. (2017) mention that many Americans are confused when it comes to defining the term “transgender.” Meanwhile, this word is an “umbrella term” for many subgroups, each of which has some peculiarities and specifics (Miller et al., 2017, p. 5). Thus, it seems reasonable to increase the public’s awareness of this concept. Such measures might and should alleviate the level of hostility toward transgender people that some of the US citizens have.


Finally, an important aspect to discuss in the context of transgender people is the attitude of the public toward their rights. As Flores (2015) notes, there are three types of measures concerning the acknowledgment of transgender individuals’ rights. The first measure relates to whether transgender individuals should have the same “rights and protections as general public” (Flores, 2015, p. 403).

The second measure is concerned with the legal protections and inquires whether transgender people should obtain the same legal protections as gay and lesbian people. The third item evaluates whether Congress should enact laws protecting transgender individuals from job discrimination (Flores, 2015). Each of these three groups of attitude measurement is highly important, and it is crucial to reach the politics’ and lawmakers’, let alone, citizens’, support in all of the mentioned aspects. Unfortunately, however, scholars conclude that the public opinion of transgender people in the US is not much supportive and positive.

Harrison’s and Michelson’s (2018) research focused on attitudes toward transgender people and rights indicates the following data. 28.6% of women and 20.7% of men that participated in the survey recognized a high level of discrimination against transgender individuals in the US (Harrison & Michelson, 2018). 19.2% of women and 27% of men considered that transgender people experienced little to no discrimination.

These data indicate that US citizens admit the existence of the problem. However, the question remains open as to when and how this problem will be reduced. While many efforts are currently being made to improve the position of transgender individuals in society, results are still not satisfactory. Thus, it is necessary to promote the visibility of the problem and reach a better understanding on the part of the US people.


Drescher, J., & Pula, J. (2014). Ethical issues raised by the treatment of gender-variant prepubescent children. Hastings Center Report, 44(s4), S17-S22.

Flores, A. R. (2015). Attitudes toward transgender rights: Perceived knowledge and secondary interpersonal contact. Politics, Groups, and Identities, 3(3), 398-416.

Harrison, B. F., & Michelson, M. R. (2018). Gender, masculinity threat, and support for transgender rights: An experimental study. Sex Roles. Web.

Levasseur, M. D. (2015). Gender identity defines sex: Updating the law to reflect modern medical science is key to transgender rights. Vermont Law Review, 39, 943-1004.

Miller, P. R., Flores, A. R., Haider-Markel, D. P., Lewis, D. C., Tadlock, B. L., & Taylor, J. K. (2017). Transgender politics as body politics: Effects of disgust sensitivity and authoritarianism on transgender rights attitudes. Politics, Groups, and Identities, 5(1), 4-24.

Winter, S., Settle, E., Wylie, K., Reisner, S., Cabral, M., Knudson, G., & Baral, S. (2016). Synergies in health and human rights: A call to action to improve transgender health. The Lancet, 388(10042), 318-321.

Wright, J. (2015). . Towleroad. Web.

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