Transgender issues get celebrity spotlight

Transgender issues get celebrity spotlight

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Viewers across the country anxiously wait to get an inside peek into celebrity Bruce Jenner's gender transition, and now the issue of social acceptance on the process hits close to home.

Some are saying, despite celebrity attention, transgender people in the Valley still experience discrimination.

Transgender issues are taking the entertainment and media world by storm. However, issues portrayed in popular shows like "Orange is the New Black" have already come to life in our own backyard. 
In 2013, Victoria Owens, a local transgender woman, claimed the Russell County Jail did not give her all the medicines she normally takes.

"I went without my medication for four days," said Owens.

Sheriff Heath Taylor said in a 2013 interview, "The citizens of this county do not pay for transgender sex change." 

Officials said they allow everyone in the community to be who they are, but don't believe it is the taxpayers' responsibility to fund a personal choice.

The topic continues to generate questions of how transgender issues are handled, and the controversial topic continues to make headlines. 
Matasha Spiller of Columbus was born a male but says she quickly knew she was meant to be someone else. 

"When I was younger I had to pretend like I was somebody that I'm not," said Spiller."I felt like I was a woman trapped inside a male's body."

Spiller explains that she encountered a lot of discrimination and was misunderstood growing up.

"I was bullied, my family didn't want to be around me, and they would pick on me,"said Spiller. 
A shocking finding from the Department of Justice shows one in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their life, and hate-crimes are prevalent. Those are statistics that some say could change if society does. 
"A lot of people say a man in a dress. I don't see it that way, I see it like me, I'm a woman just like any other woman but I'm just different. I'm still human," said Spiller.

Proposals for transgender bathrooms at some schools and also states like California have sparked concern from people who don't believe in funding those kinds of projects.

Copyright WTVM 2015. All rights reserved.