The Importance of Transgender Awareness Month
By Alex Temblador
The month of November is Transgender Awareness Month, a month that holds so much significance for our country because it brings to light a group of individuals that struggle greatly in terms of equality and acceptance in the United States.
November 14-20th groups, organizations, and individuals will be participating in Transgender Awareness Week with November 20th being Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to honor transgender persons who have lost their lives because of anti-transgender violence. Vigils will be held across the country on November 20th. To participate, contact your local LGBT center and they should have information of local vigils in your area.
To commemorate the importance of this month, we decided to put together some things for you so that you can be more aware of the transgender reality in the U.S. and support your fellow Americans.
- Transgender Facts.
In 2011, the Williams Institute found that 700,000 people identify as trans in the United States. The statistics surrounding this significant transgender community can be split into positive and negative facts.
The following are statistics that we hope to make significant changes to in the future, and hopefully with National Transgender Awareness Month, we can do that.
- The National Transgender Discrimination Survey of 2011 found that 41% of trans participants had tried to commit suicide.
- There is an estimated number of 15,500 active duty transgender individuals serving in the military and over 134,300 trans veterans. Currently, there is a ban in the U.S. on open transgender military service.
- 226 transgender persons have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence according to Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring Project.
- 67% of anti-LGBT homicide victims are trans women of color.
- About 19% of transgender persons experience violence or abuse from their own family.
- 26% of transgender people lost their jobs because of their identity.
- Transgender person are 6 times more likely to experience physical violence from police.
- They are 1.7 times more likely to experience sexual assault.
Still, the transgender community has made significant strides in many areas. Check out the positive facts about the transgender community that proves change is happening:
- 9 million people tuned into Caitlyn Jenner’s 20/20 interview, bringing the transgender experience to millions of homes in ways that has never occurred before. With Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show, I Am Cait, and Jazz Jenning’s reality show, Americans are becoming more aware about transgender issues than never before.
- President Obama was the first president to mention transgender persons in a State of the Union Address.
- The U.S. military has stated that they are working to end the transgender ban by next year.
- Cities like Dallas, Texas, are banning transgender discrimination.
- Trans activists include people beyond high-profile celebrities.
The discussion of transgender issues may seem to have exploded with Olympian and reality star Caitlyn Jenner’s announcement that she was transgender, but it’s important to remember that transgender issues are being fought beyond high-profile celebrities and have been for some time.
Transgender persons, parents of transgender children, and allies all over the United States are working to make changes in their communities, in their schools, and in the laws. Take Sergeant Shane Ortega, the military’s first openly transgender person who is fighting to end the U.S. military’s ban on transgender people. There’s also Debi Jackson, mother to trans daughter Avery Jackson, who works tirelessly to create a world in which her daughter can grow up safe and have the same rights as others. Check out her beautiful speech below.
Having said that, there are high-profile transgender activists that work daily to bring transgender issues to the forefront and have been doing so for years. There’s Laverne Cox, celebrity actress best known for her role in Orange is the New Black. She was the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in July 10, 2014.
Janet Mock is a writer, speaker, editor for Marie Claire, and TV host that has worked tirelessly to make positive changes for transgender people, as well trans people of color. Chaz Bono, trans son of Sonny and Cher, wrote a memoir about his struggles with self-acceptance and lends his voice to the transgender rights movement.
High-profile trans activists provide a voice that influences the public due to their fame and connections. They are oftentimes bringing transgender issues to the media, however, these well-known activists are nothing without the trans activists that work on smaller levels, in their communities and in the background. We want to thank them both for working together and doing all that they can with what they have to make a difference in the lives of transgender persons.
- Anti-trans laws in the United States.
Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect transgender persons. Unfortunately, not all of these laws protect transgender adults in all sectors of life. Some states protect trans persons more than others. 200 cities and counties have banned transgender discrimination.
As of now, “there is no federal law that explicitly prevents people from being fired, evicted, or refused service on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” However, the Obama administration has just stated that they will support the Equality Act, an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which if passed, would protect transgender persons from discrimination in ways that race, class, and disability are currently protected.
- Transgender youth.
The reality of transgender youth is that they are trying to figure out who they are, and share that with their family and friends. Unfortunately, the world that is not always accepting and many times they suffer from bullying, suicidal thoughts, and depression.
Currently, transgender children across the United States are being discriminated against in schools for trying to use the bathroom that matches their identity. Right now, the White House is working to support a transgender teen in a bathroom dispute at his school.
Issues like this and bullying are a real aspect of many transgender youth’s lives. Just look at these statistics.
- 82% of transgender youth report that they feel unsafe at school
- 44% of them had been abused physically (ex. punched, shoved, etc.)
- 67% of them had been bullied online
- 64% of them had their property stolen or destroyed
Victimization oft transgender youth is unacceptable. So we are glad when we hear all of the beautiful stories from parents of transgender kids working to provide a safe place for their kids in schools. We are also touched when we see cisgender kids standing by their transgender classmates.
The Next Family interviewed transgender student Stella Keating. Check it out below to get a better sense of transgender youth.
- Transgender parents.
Transgender parents exist and they have families. They are raising children in a world in which transgender persons are treated as second-class citizens without certain rights.
Still, we are happy to see that the realities of transgender parents are being brought to light with documentaries like Transgender Parents and with the new reality show, Becoming Us.
We hope that with Transgender Awareness Month, we can educate the public about the equal rights transgender persons deserve to have so that transgender parents can raise children without the fear of losing their job, or having their families harassed, discriminated against, or victims of violence.
- Transgender persons in the media.
Transgender persons are becoming more prevalent in the media, on TV, and in movies. There’s shows like Netflix’s Sense 8, Amazon’s Transparent, and the upcoming films About Ray with Elle Fanning, and The Danish Girl with Eddie Redmayne that feature the transgender experience, something that wasn’t being done just five years ago.
The Next Family has interviewed trans activists and writers who discuss shows like Transparent and the aspect of transgender persons in the media. Check them out below.