Beyond Caitlyn Jenner Lies a Long Struggle by Transgender People

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from The New York Times,

By now, most Americans are probably familiar with the rights movement known by the initials L.G.B.T., but they may have a better sense of the L.G.B. part — lesbian, gay, bisexual. The T, for transgender, has eluded many people. That, however, may be quickly changing with a string of developments in recent years, not the least being the emergence this month of Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman who was a public figure for four decades as Bruce Jenner, Olympic decathlon champion and reality-show personality.

“Bruce always had to tell a lie,” she said in a video accompanying her appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair, but “Caitlyn doesn’t have any secrets.”

Though the statistics may not be fully reliable, their numbers in this country are commonly estimated at 700,000, or about three-tenths of 1 percent of the adult population. A survey of 4,509 Americans adults conducted in late 2013 by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 65 percent had close friends or relatives who were gay or lesbian. Transgender? Only 9 percent. Even so, awareness of transgender people and their issues is clearly growing, and not just because of Ms. Jenner.

Chaz Bono, the child of the entertainers Sonny and Cher; Chelsea Manning, the imprisoned leaker of Army secrets; Laverne Cox, the star of the Netflix drama “Orange Is the New Black”; writers like Jennifer Finney Boylan and Janet Mock — all are transgender men and women who are shaping the national discussion. “Transparent,” an award-winning Amazon online video series, is about a family whose father is a transgender woman. Another show with a dad who is a transgender woman, “Becoming Us,” began last week on the ABC Family network. On June 4, Barnard College in New York announced that it would join women’s colleges like Wellesley, Mount Holyoke and Smith in enrolling transgender women.

Those sorts of developments suggest that transgender men and women have made strides toward acceptance.

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