In response to President Donald Trump‘s new bathroom ruling rolling back protections for transgender children, transgender actress Ivory Aquino writes exclusively for PEOPLE about the controversial decision.
PEOPLE magazine has graciously shared my story of transition. Although that included gender confirmation surgery, this is not part of everyone’s journey in the trans community, nor is it necessary in recognizing and honoring one’s gender expression. The term gender confirmation itself can be misleading, for one’s gender cannot be confirmed, one’s gender simply IS.
I stress this in light of the recent overturning of federal protections for transgender kids in the public school system in using the bathroom of their gender, which is not simply their chosen gender expression but their true gender.
How do these beautiful trans kids exist? National Geographic Magazine recently published scientific findings that one’s gender identity doesn’t begin developing in the brain until the second half of fetal development, several weeks after external genital differentiation takes place in the first two months of pregnancy. Thus, it is a different and independent environment of hormones, nutrients, medication, chemicals and other factors that determine external genitalia as opposed to gender identity in one’s brain.
When the fetus is fully formed and the child is born, it comes out as a baby. It is a doctor that assigns this baby ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ based on the appearance of genitalia. ‘Boy’ may be assigned to a baby with external male genitalia when their gender identity that developed during pregnancy is in fact girl (or a variation on the vast gender spectrum), and vice-versa. This is how a transgender child is first introduced to the world: with an imposition not based on their true self.
Trans kids, from the get-go, have all of society telling them they are one thing, when their authentic self is another. For them to express their truth amidst all this, at such a young age, is an act of courage.
Rather than admonish them for simply expressing who they are, let us recognize their bravery and allow them the basic human right to exist, including existing in a public space such as a bathroom aligning with their true gender. This is the least we can do for them, for having had to overcome so much so early in their lives.
In supporting these courageous kids, we send the message to all our children that the most you can be for the world is yourself.
—With IVORY AQUINO