Society’s ‘Rules’ Are Based On Hate And Fear, And That Needs To Change

Benjamin Faust

I have an announcement to make…

This is going to come as a shock to some, but I think it’s time for me to come clean. I, Sebastian Kern, think that the new President is doing a bang up job. NO REALLY, I’M SERIOUS!

Now before anybody jumps down my throat, let me finish my thought. Like I said, I think he’s doing a bang up job… WAIT FOR IT… at giving me a reason to pay attention to the news, and providing plenty of material to write about. So thanks Don!

I’m sure by now, everyone has seen or heard the news that The Don has decreed through Twitter that all Transgender people can no longer serve in the military due to the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” they bring to the Armed Forces. If you haven’t, then I assume you live under a rock.

Now, I really don’t want to go back and forth about the accuracy behind The Don’s statement. Sure, the records show that more money has been spent in the Armed Forces on Viagra than on Transgender soldiers. Nor is there any evidence that having Trans people in the military has any negative impact. But I think it’s best to leave that debate for the experts.

By the way, am I the only one wondering why people in the military need so much Viagra while in service? Is there something going on that we should know about? Perhaps “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” really had a whole different meaning than what we originally thought. And if that’s the case, where do I sign up? But I digress.

The reason I brought this whole thing up actually has little to do with The Don. The sad reality is that this “new” ban is really nothing new for our country. If you look back in history, our country has banned African Americans, Women and Homosexuals from serving their country. So this isn’t really groundbreaking. In fact, it seems more like a right of passage at this point for a minority group to be banned from the military. Maybe each of these bans have less to do with the group being banned, and more to do with the not so subtle bias of the person doing the banning. I would also like to point out that each of these past bans were eventually eliminated with the changing of the times.

So why am I so bothered by this ban you may ask. To be honest, I think it’s hypocritical for The Don, who has not only never served his country, but did everything he could to get out of it, to tell anyone they can’t serve. And to take it to another level, he plans to discharge all the Transgender men and women who are actively serving now. Call me crazy, but if people voluntarily join the military, pass all the tests and basic training, and prove to be more than qualified, who is anyone to tell them they can’t serve? And shouldn’t there be more respect given to a person who willingly joins the Armed Forces or who has served their country than to a person who went out of his way to avoid it?

Let me ask you this: do any of you comprehend what it’s like to be Trans? To be born and live your life in the wrong body, be subject to ridicule and hate on a daily basis, fight for the right to use the correct bathroom, and have to spend enormous amounts of money on medications and painful surgeries to finally become who you were always meant to be? I most certainly don’t, but whoever endures a life like that has to be extremely brave and strong in my book. No offense to The Don, but I would feel much safer having a Transgender person fighting for my country than I do with him having the codes to our country’s nuclear weapons. But that’s just me I guess.

I wish I could say that this is the only instance of a specific group of people being targeted and told they couldn’t do something, but the reality is it’s been going on for a while in some way, shape or form. Although, unlike the military ban on Transgender people, which I personally believe is more based in hate than anything else, most of these society’s “rules” of what should be are based in ignorance and fear.

Did you know that a radio station in England actually stopped playing music made by Madonna? Not because of her outrageous antics or political views, but because of her age. To be fair, the station stopped playing any artist over a certain age, but can you imagine? Regardless of how you feel about Madonna as a person, her contributions to the world of music cannot be denied. And she’s still singing, performing on stage and being provocative. So what makes her age the criteria for radio play?

Actually, women and their age seems to be an issue in a bunch of areas, from music to television and movies, and even in the world of modeling. Growing up, the majority of models “retired” by the age of twenty six. After that, I guess they were not seen as marketable. In fact, Isabella Rossellini was dropped from Lancôme in the mid 90’s because she was seen as “old,” and she was only forty. Luckily, times have changed, and models like Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Tyra Banks are all back on the runways, gracing magazine covers and doing their thing. Age is no longer seen as a hinderance to beauty.

Or how about the fact that many gay musicians are told that if they come out, they would lose their fans. Or that gay actors are rarely given roles as straight people because it “wouldn’t be believable.” Didn’t Neil Patrick Harris successfully play a ladies man on How I Met Your Mother, and he’s an out and proud gay man. Hasn’t it been proven by now that gay people can do just about anything their straight counterparts do? So how is it that gay men can’t pull off straight on TV and in the movies, but it’s perfectly acceptable for straight men to play gay, like Eric McCormack on Will & Grace? How ridiculous is that?

It doesn’t just end there. These “rules” do not just apply to celebrities. Society has dictated how different cultures and ethnicities should be for centuries. I think we call them stereotypes. Some groups have certain ideas of what should be within themselves. Even we as individuals judge people based off of our own ideas of what should be. Personally, I think that once you are over a certain age, there’s something a little desperate about trying to hold on to your youth by shopping in Forever 21. But again, that’s just me. The point is, we all have these “rules” of how we think people should behave.

For example, did you know that in the Gay community, a gay man over the age of thirty is seen as a dinosaur? So how does that work exactly? Once you hit the age of thirty, you should just put yourself out to pasture and not even attempt to meet somebody and fall in love, because it’s too late? I actually didn’t start dating until after I turned thirty, so if I followed that mentality, I never would have met my guy. I would have been done before I even started.

Recently, I joined a blogging group on Facebook. My intention was to network with other bloggers, and possibly get some tips on how to improve my own website. For the most part, people were extremely supportive. But there were also some people, mostly in their late teens and early twenties, who felt that I was too old to be blogging and I would never amount to anything. It really annoyed me that my age was the major factor to my blog’s success. Shouldn’t it be based on my talent as a writer, and what I am able to contribute? I mean, who actually makes these rules? And why do people believe them enough to follow?

I guess that’s the bottom line to all this. These “rules” are not based in anything real. They are societies way of holding people back and dealing with issues that “the establishment” find uncomfortable. This has been going on since the beginning of time. Look through American history. If people followed what society dictated, there would never have been the Civil Rights, Equal Rights or the Gay Rights Movements. Each of these came about to change the “rules” that they never were involved in the making of. And although things today are certainly not perfect (for example, on the same day as the Trans ban, the Department of Justice declared that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not include discrimination against sexual orientation), these groups were heard, and the world began to slowly adapt to a new way of thinking.

Unfortunately, there is a ways to go before these “rules” cease to exist. It’s up to us to fight what society says, and prove them wrong. If you have the ability and drive, and are willing to do something, then you should be able to do it. Nobody should have the right to tell you that you can’t. That goes for me, you, Madonna, and even the Transgender men and women who put their lives on the line everyday for our country, along with their fellow soldiers. We need to stand up and say that a person’s age or sex or color or whatever else does not determine their worth or ability. That’s the only way things will ever change. TC mark

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