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Enforcing the Status Quo

During the Trans*Cend workshop, two short stories from the American literary "canon" were assigned to the participants: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s brutal dystopian tale, Harrison Bergeron (1961), and Shirley Jackson's chilling allegory, The Lottery (1948.)

Reactions to both of these works were poignant because they hit so close to home. Harrison Bergeron told of a police state where citizens are guaranteed equality by way of institutionalized mediocrity. When anything extraordinary is outlawed by way of Draconian measures, order comes at the price of individual despair.

The Lottery told of a close-knit village where tradition trumps reason. Citizens thrive in a stagnant small pond where brutality is ritualized. Only an outsider can see that their collective sense of security is an illusion.

Though these stories are satirical, their parallels to transgender issues are clear. When discrimination is institutionalized, and phobia is rampant, poverty, isolation and brutality follow. If simply existing as a transgender person (or any other person outside the norm) is dangerous, how safe is anyone, really?

The key to a better world isn't about being alike, or even about embracing differences, it's about making our differences a non-issue and treating each other as equals.

Oh! And if you've never read these great stories --- or if you read them eons ago in school -- invest a few minutes in revisiting them. Read. Reflect. Contemplate. Never take your literacy for granted!

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