Neish McLean, a Jamaican, who was born a woman but now identifies as a man, wants the Government to allow transgender persons to change the gender on their legal documents to match the one they have identified with.
McLean, executive director of the transgender organisation, Transwave, wanted to be deemed a man despite being born with female genitalia.
McLean in an interview stated that it is imperative that transgender individuals be given this opportunity to reduce the likelihood of them being exposed to violence.
- Violence and discrimination
"I wish to navigate the world as I see myself, so if my ID does not match as I see myself, then that exposes me to violence and discrimination," McLean said. "For example, going through the airport, that can expose people of tran-experience with undue scrutiny and discrimination and when receiving services at different spaces because my ID is reflecting who I say I am."
McLean competed at the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run in February as a male.
"I didn't identify with the gender I was assigned to. I just didn't feel as if I fit in. I didn't know how to term it," McLean said. "It is not a matter of changing, it's just a matter of internal feeling. I just felt fully accepted into my adulthood and felt comfortable expressing my gender as I do."
- Identifying myself
Now 32, McLean also stated that feelings about gender have never been an issue.
"I was never afraid to share how I felt with my family. It was really more a matter of me accepting who I was and who I was comfortable being. For my family, it is more so of my safety that they were more concerned about than my gender identity," McLean said.
McLean said that apart from wearing a tunic to school, pants and shorts were the preference.
"I didn't grow up in an environment that was very strict in terms of me identifying myself as a girl. My gender wasn't policed. It was a few years back when I actually told them that I wanted to be identified as a man. They are not very expressive, so I don't know how they are truly feeling," he said.
McLean said Transwave is currently arming itself with the necessary information to place a solid argument before the Government.
McLean also said the group has had discussions about engaging medical professionals to provide a framework for transgenders to undergo medical transitions in Jamaica.