There is a street in Washington, D.C., where transgender prostitutes loiter, working for a living. When I worked at the Washington Blade newspaper, we did many stories on these kids, for in many cases, that is who they are.
Before that, I didn’t know much about transgender issues. Never met one, didn’t really impact my life so it was not something I ever thought about. I had seen a few drag shows but it wasn’t really my thing.
After working at the Blade and covering some of the issues facing this community, I became a lot more sympathetic.
Many of those teens standing out on K Street were tossed out of their homes by families that didn’t understand them. They had few places to go and no sources of income. Employers are not eager to hire transgender people. It’s an issue they’d rather not have to face, and the easiest way not to face it is to not hire someone like that.
So those teens standing on the street at night were there in many cases because they didn’t have a choice.
Some risk being beaten if their employer for the night is unaware of their transitioning gender and their angry reaction upon discovering it.
There are also those who are eager to exploit these young people, trying to sell them hormone drugs or promising them implants that may, or may not, leak. Some have died because of their leaky implants. Others have been poisoned by them.
The cost of surgeries to transition is huge. Some prices: eyelids, $6,700; breast augmentation, $8,200; buttock implants, $9,500; the surgery to create female genitals, $19,750. Those are from the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery price list, and that’s just the start. There were many, many more procedures available.
Trying to do it on the cheap leads them to unethical “doctors,” some of whom may actually have medical degrees. Many have been harmed by those who did not.
Even after enduring all of that, going through all the medical procedures and finally looking on the outside how they feel on the inside, they are still not free. There’s legal matters, such as changing their names.
Then there are politicians who use them to fire up the base, passing laws against them and turning them into scapegoats so they can get a few votes. North Carolina already passed theirs; Texas is considering doing the same.
Not to mention some would ban them from serving the nation they love.
When they do find love, they have to worry about how their partner will accept, or not accept, the news.
There are probably some perverts out there who want to loiter in the opposite sex bathroom for their own sick pleasure. They should be arrested.
I still don’t fully understand them and I suspect I never will. Their journey is not my journey, but I can see their path is very difficult. I certainly don’t want to make it any harder for them.
This must be something they feel deep inside them, because no one would put themselves through all of that unless they were being true to themselves.
Email Ken Sain at firstname.lastname@example.org.