Shiloh Jolie-Pitt recently made headlines when she appeared a the premier of her Mother’s film “Unbroken.” The reason the eight year shocked the media was because she turned up at the event wearing a suit. For a long time now it has been known that Shilohs parents, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, follow their child’s wishes to dress in boy’s clothing. The Jolie-Pitt’s have publicly said that Shiloh identifies more with boyish and masculine things, it has even been reported that Shiloh has asked her family members to refer to her primarily as, John.
After the eight year old’s appearance on the red carpet, the internet was buzzing with opinions. A lot of people referred to the Jolie-Pitt’s as a crazy, messed up Hollywood family, who are ruining their kids lives by going along with Shiloh’s wishes. Other’s blamed celebrity culture.
Model, Amber Rose has received a lot of backlash for referring to Shiloh as a “transkid” on social media. Amber, posted a message of support for Shiloh on social media and was met with dismay. It’s safe to say that everyone has an opinion on this issue, including me.
I like to think of myself as a very open minded and accepting person. I pride myself on being a member and supporter of the LGBT community and there isn’t a lot that shocks me any more, including the ignorance that some people display. I can however, understand why some people do not understand what being Transgender means and can sometimes be confused or uneducated about the subject of gender and gender identities.
I have heard people say things like “Why are there so many gays/weirdo’s now days? There was never this many years ago!”. This is the kind of thing people say when they are ignorant to other peoples lives and struggles.
The reason why there are so many openly out and proud people now days, is because society is slowly but surely becoming more accepting. It’s not because LGBT people “didn’t exist” back in the day. There have always been LGBT people in communities, most of them were and are too afraid to be themselves, due to fear of rejection. Even more harrowing, people sometimes fear for their lives. So, I think it is safe to say that anyone who opens up to their family, communities or even the world about their sexual preference or gender identity is very brave indeed.
Many people are slating the Jolie-Pitt family, for allowing their child to make their own decisions about how they live their life. I personally think that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt should be proud that they are such open minded parents, who are allowing their child to explore their identity on their own accord.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager from Ohio. Leelah’s Mother was a devout Christian, who refused to accept her child’s gender identity. Leelah, had been forced by her Mother to undergo conversion therapy. The “therapy” aims to change sexual orientation through counselling. Leelah left behind a suicide note and walked in front of an oncoming truck in order to take her own life.
Leelah’s story is tragic and sadly, not uncommon. The suicide rate within the Trangender community is high. In a survey done by UCLA, it has been reported that 41% of the Transgender people who took part in the survey, have attempted suicide, which is nine times higher than the national average.
What shocks me is, people expressed their disgust and sadness for Leelah’s story and agree that her Mother could have done more, to accept her child and to educate herself about her child’s gender identity. However, many people seem to believe that the Jolie-Pitt’s are brainwashing their child into thinking that she is a boy, by allowing their child the freedom of self expression. Double standard much?
The thing I hear people say most, in regards to Shiloh Jolie-Pitt is, “She’s just going through a phase, her parents shouldn’t encourage it.” So what if Shiloh is going through a phase, in fact, lets assume it is a phase. Is it really so bad that a child wears clothes that are not assigned to the gender they were born into physically? Does if effect your your life in any way? The answer is a booming, NO. If it is a phase, Shiloh will move on and can rest on the knowledge that her parents truly love her for who she is. I for one, don’t think that is a bad thing.
If Leelah Alcorn’s parents reacted in the way the Jolie-Pitt’s reacted to Shiloh’s decision to identify as John, then Leelah might still be with us today. Acceptance goes a long way, all anyone wants is to be loved by those closest to them. Being Transgender is nothing to be ashamed of and I think if more parents accepted their children for who they are, this world would be a much better place to live in.
I think it is time that schools educated children and adults alike on the topic of gender identity and the LGBT community in general. Education is key and knowledge is power.
Knowledge saves lives and trans lives matter.