Trans-Rights, a Primer

Trans-Rights, a Primer

Despite personally being a member of the LGBTQ community – I have been at a loss at times relating to Trans-rights. Because this is for me, just like it is for most straight people, not a direct part of my experience. Transgender related issues are hard for lots of our population to know how to deal with, or even just understand because they are so traditionally in their own identities they can’t comprehend that someone else’s experience might be different. Nor that other’s stories are as intrinsically as valuable and real as their own. That our pre-conceived positions may not actually be as informed nor based in truth as we think.

This lack of understanding and even the desire to consider others as intrinsically valid has placed a marginalized portion of our society at greater risk across the board. Basic issues of discrimination in housing, employment, health care access – much less the very sanctity of life as this community faces increasing murder rates in our society stand out as things that we need to address.

The ACLU has produced a beautifully illustrated video which covers much of this history, and the state of transpeoples in America today – the video is embedded below.

Resistance is our birthright, the gift passed on from our elders… we will continue to fight until we are all safe and free.

Rights come to us because we are Humans, and should not be limited nor removed because of any other factor. Whether we are female, lesbian, people of color, gay, transgender, queer, or any other identity we should have equal rights and access to all that society offers.

I have been very fortunate to have known a number of people who are trans – both men and women. A great friend in Guam once wrote a letter, an essay about how her greatest desire was love and acceptance. I can’t see how this actually differs from me, nor anyone I have ever know. I have found everyone to be exactly what they are – humans. And, like all other humans, they deserve the same rights, protections, and representation in our government and society.

We Owe These Transgender Pioneers

Every day, people question why we advocate for trans rights. “How many trans people are there, really?” we are asked. Or, “Isn’t this just a new niche issue that serves as a distraction from the issues that really matter?” But trans people have always existed and been celebrated in many cultures, and their lives have always mattered – whether the majority recognizes it or not.

So, as this community has and continues to face rampant discrimination it becomes even more important for us to recognize their equality. The gay community owes a debt of gratitude to the trans community for the riots at Stonewall, and everything else they did that has provided us the momentum to achieve what equality we have attained. As the Lesbian and Gay communities move forward it is important for us to recognize our debt and ensure we bring forward the cause of our brothers and sisters.  We would not be where we are today without their valiant fight, and the very sacrifices of life and liberty they offered.

Why do Trans-Rights Matter?

This video comes on the heels of the President’s tweets seeking to ban transgender individuals from military service and in the midst of continued legislative efforts in states like Texas to ban transgender individuals from public restrooms. The consequences of this discrimination from our government are deadly.

In one comprehensive survey of over 27,000 transgender individuals in 2015, almost one in three respondents reported living in poverty, over half reported being denied health care related to their gender transition, one of every four indicated that they did not seek medical attention at all due to fear of discrimination and more than three of every four reported experiencing harassment in school because they were trans, ultimately leading to 17% of respondents dropping out of secondary school altogether.

All of this contributes to a cycle of discrimination and violence that leads to homelessness, incarceration and ultimately, for many — particularly trans women of color — premature death. Indeed, at least 15 trans people, almost all women of color, have been murdered so far this year in the United States. And two of every five American trans people attempt suicide at least once in their life.

Without accurate information about trans people, our lives and our rich histories, the impulse to push us out of public life will continue. But we continue to tell our vivid, vibrant and critical story of trans resistance. Time marches forward, and so do we.

(The last 3 paragraphs directly from the ACLU video description text)