Transgender Issue Highlights That We Can’t Tolerate Differences

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In the seconds following President Donald Trump’s ban of transgender individuals from the U.S. military, landmines of outrage and indignation ignited. With mindful intent, I am absent from all things social media and even I was scathed by the violent ambush. Verbal shrapnel remains protruding from my heart.

It is a sad time in America, and not just because of the president’s latest tweet. It is a sad time in America because rather than uniting to fight the war for equality, we wage battle amongst ourselves. We mutiny against the very acceptance and justice we claim to seek.

We combat disbelief with intolerance, intolerance with rage, rage with insult, insult with injury, injury with pride, pride with hypocrisy and hypocrisy with disbelief. We have lost all sense of civility. We have disengaged from the rules of engagement, using force, hostility and provocation with detached indifference.

We no longer tolerate dissimilarity. We seek internal uniformity. We fire judgement and grievance into the foxhole of cyberspace and expect something to change. We toss grenades of anger, ignorance, fear and hate into foreign lands and watch with nonchalance as they explode, spreading their poison far and wide.   

We assume the right to regard diversity of belief as absurd, to trample contradicting creeds. We believe that our perspective is the truest truth. We fear that our own opinions have less value if they are not validated and espoused by others.  

Yet there is room for all types in this country, in this world, in this life. If we feel defensive about our feelings and inclined to ask others to integrate our ideals, then we are not honoring the humble human right that our transgender military personnel seek to protect and preserve.

The right of one human is the right of all humans. A value system different than our own is not worth any more or any less than any other. The principles of equity and open-mindedness do not only march one way.

We will disagree with one another, of that much we can be certain. It is only when we are willing to be vulnerable and authentic that we will reflect upon our perspectives, shift our schemas and alter our principles. It is unlikely that such growth will ever occur because someone else desired so. Thus, we have no choice but to hold disagreements in such a way that we ourselves do not perpetuate the same prejudice we seek to extinguish.

A battle cannot be fought while rebellion and revolt run amuck amongst its soldiers. A war cannot be won when the cause remains clouded by antagonism and ego. People cannot be victorious while compassion for the human cause remains crushed between their boots and the ground.

There will never be a world without discord. Still, I cannot help but hope for the breakdown of our collective intolerance and the strategic reprogramming of our humanity. Maybe then we will be able to recognize that we are all more similar than different.

Natalie Tuffield is a Denver licensed social worker with nearly a decade of experience in community mental health and homeless services. She also writes a blog, “Mostly Tragic Tales of Dating, Living & Working in the Mile High City.”