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Pizza rolls not Gender Roles

🕔 Wednesday, 18 Jan 2017 om 09:27

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Not long ago social media sites were overloaded with #lovewins. I remember sharing in that happiness. In that one moment in history where everybody was about love and acceptance. The usual anti-LGBTQI negativity was deafened by this magnificent win on the side of the LGBTQI community. I remember thinking about Suriname and how maybe one day we might make a similar development in human rights. A hope that I had little faith in being realized. That’s why the courts granting Ms. Hilton permission to legally change her gender was surprising. I never imagined that this would happen. I was shocked and scared they might retract the decision, but it’s been days now. Days that have now turned into a seeming reality, where a transwoman is being allowed to exist in our society as she chooses. While this is an important step into normalizing and creating traction for the movement, it’s not without its detractors. Suriname is known for being a place of “tolerance” and we seem to be satisfied with that alone, we’re not allowed to want acceptance. On January 11, when the news broke, it attracted the usual detractors who took no time in airing their opinions (Starnieuws, 2017). This ranged from questioning the relevance of the news, refusal to recognize her identity to remarks about her femininity, religious outburst and claiming this as another reason Suriname is going to the dogs. Let me explain to you why this is relevant and newsworthy.

We live in a society that still harbors traditional views on sexual orientation and gender. This creates a space for stigma and prejudice against people who do not conform to the traditional heteronormative culture and identities (Biharie, 2016). This is noticeable by the people who refuse to use the correct pronouns when addressing her. This is a micro-aggressive way of telling her you don’t agree that she’s a woman, that her identity is false. This is an act of unacceptance.

Another example is when people demand she “give birth to a child” to prove she’s a “woman”. That she should not be allowed to adopt children because she could never feel “motherly” emotions. These are both examples of sexism and how strongly we still think in terms of gender. The idea that women are defined by their ability to give birth is an outdated and patriarchal concept. What exactly are motherly emotions? Are infertile women not women anymore? What about women who do not want children? There is no scientific cause against none-hetero couples when it comes to adopting children ( APA Council of Representatives, 2004). What is a hard truth is the fact that there are many children in this country, who want a home and a family.

Religion has no place in politics nor in the manner in which a country should be governed. This is not an issue of “Sodom and Gomorrah”, but of a Surinamese citizen not being allowed to exercise her human rights. Every citizen should be allowed to live freely in their country. Ms. Hilton being allowed to change her gender is not going to ruin the country. She’s not the one making bad political decisions that is devaluing our currency.

Harboring these stigmas and prejudices creates an unsafe space for the trans-community and youth. They feel unwelcomed at school, in their families, they have difficulty being in public spaces and finding jobs. This in turn creates an unhealthy pattern where trans-people end up dropping out of school, being underqualified for jobs and vulnerable to being discriminated against. It’s not surprising when this leads to most trans-people doing illegal work or sex-related jobs. This creates and perpetuates the stigma of trans-people all being sex-workers (Biharie, 2016). It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy society is guilty of actualizing, because we intentionally and unintentionally don’t stop to consider these people as individuals. We let our ignorance get the best of us.

Yvanna Hilton winning the right to change her legal papers, having her identity validated, is very relevant. This is a step forward in achieving equal rights. It’s newsworthy because she is not the only trans-person in this country. It’s important to be visible and be allowed to say, this is who I am and these are my dreams for my future. Yvanna Hilton is living her life fearlessly and letting others know they can too. Representation matters and we owe it to our neighbors to educate ourselves rather than spreading hate and intolerance.

Works Cited
APA Council of Representatives. (2004). Sexual Orientation, Parents, & Children. Retrieved from www.apa.org: http://www.apa.org/about/policy/parenting.aspx
Bihari, R. (2016). EEN KWALITATIEF ONDERZOEK NAAR DE ERVARING EN BELEVENIS VAN SURINAAMSE TRANSGENDERS MET DISCRIMINATIE IN OPENBARE RUIMTEN VAN PARAMARIBO. Paramaribo: Anton de Kom Universiteit van Suriname.
Starnieuws. (2017, January 12). Yvanna Hilton wil trouwen en kinderen adoptere. Retrieved from www.starnieuws.com: http://www.starnieuws.com/index.php/welcome/index/nieuwsitem/39309?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook
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