Why Some People Are Getting Psychiatric Evaluations For Being Honest

The one thing we're most sure of in life is who we are. So imagine what it must feel like to have your identity assigned by the government. Especially the wrong one. For some people, it's just not as simple as ticking the "male" or "female" box.

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Narrator: Our world is littered with things that we struggle to understand: love, war, our place in this ever-expanding universe. Maybe the only thing you truly know for certain is yourself, your identity. It's the lens through which you process your reality, and nobody is capable of understanding your identity like you.

So, imagine what it feels like to have your identity denied, and to have somebody else assign you an inaccurate one. It's not a hypothetical. It's a reality transgender people face every day. When their birth certificates, ID cards, and passports don't reflect the gender they live, those documents don't work. And if those documents don't work, it's much harder to travel, to register to vote, to enroll in school, to get health care, to get a job, or even to open a bank account. These activities that occur without a second thought for most people become moments of indignity and injustice for transgender people. It's a constant reminder that they can't be recognized as themselves without someone else's permission.

In order to change their name and gender on legal documents, transgender people are forced to go to unnecessary, demoralizing, and often impossible lengths. In some countries, this process even requires psychiatric confinement or forced sterilizations. These extreme demands strip transgender people of their basic human rights and leave them labeled as something they're not.

It's impossible to condense the complex notion of identity into a single, unchangeable 'M' or 'F.' Allowing people to change that letter recognizes that they know themselves better than any government or anyone else in this vast universe ever could.

There may be small errors in this transcript.
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Check out the video on Open Society Foundations. You can get more info on rights for transgender people here. Thumbnail image by Flickr user jazbeck, with text added, used under a Creative Commons license.

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