November is Transgender Awareness Month, and this week is Transgender Awareness Week.
This marks today as an ideal opportunity for everyone to educate themselves on promoting trans equality and boosting overall understanding.
GLAAD, the non-governmental media foundation for LGBTQ+ equality, stated the following,
November 14 to 20, individuals and organizations around the country will participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces. The final day of Transgender Awareness Week is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.
Over 40 percent of transgender people have reported attempting suicide. This is staggering, especially when compared to the less than 10 percent attempted suicide rate of non-LGBTQ+ people.
The heavy questions persists: Why is the rate of suicide among the transgender community so immensely large? What can we do to lower these figures?
1. Experiences With Violence
This year, a study put together by the Williams Institute found 78 percent of transgender people who experienced sexual or physical violence subsequently attempted suicide.
These two issues are unfortunately paired far too frequently. Violent experiences are, sadly, a regular reality for many trans folks.
Violence affects people who identify as LGBTQ+ more frequently than most others. This includes actions and issues with sexual violence, harassment, physical assault and suicide-related behaviors.
2. Treatment In Schools: A Bullying Epidemic
In particular, instances of bullying and harassment for transgender students are still far too common in schools around the world.
In the US, bullying affects between 1/4 and 1/3 of all students.
Seventy-five percent of trans students report not feeling safe at school or at extracurricular activities.
Cyber-bullying is an increasingly common form of bullying today. Harassment and bullying at school are very real issues for transgender youth. Parents, faculty and students must all strive to change the bullying epidemic together.
In hindsight, increasing rates of scholarships specifically for LGBTQ+ students are encouraging.
The Queer Foundation Scholarships essay contest gives money to writers personally invested in key queer topics such as medical, legal or social issues.
The Out to Protect Scholarship for criminal justice presents money for LGBTQ+ law enforcement recruits, The Human Rights Campaign also has a database of scholarships for LGBTQ+ students on their site and the Pride Foundation awards more than 50 scholarships to LGBTQ+ students specifically living in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
3. Harassment Of Transgender People And Bathrooms
Transgender people experience backlash for basic human needs like using the bathroom.
Most public places create pressure when no unisex options are available.
Transgender people deal with stubborn gender binary beliefs centered around bathroom use. These close-minded "bathroom policing" mindsets result in harassment by complete strangers.
Many trans people are forced to not use restrooms at work, school and other public places. Both physical and mental repercussions occur when people have to avoid using restrooms due to harassment and discrimination.
We all deserve the human right to relieve ourselves.
If you or someone you know has control of the signage of restrooms in a public place, contribute to equality by suggesting amending the signs to be more welcoming to all genders.
Furthermore, promise of positive change does exist.
Promise of positive change does exist.
Laws which incorporate transgender people are a step in eliminating excessive harassment and violence.
Title IX was recently updated to include trans rights. It's highlighted in an article by Find Your Context,
Transgender students are at the center of a growing number of Title IX claims. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education issued a set of updated Title IX guidelines that explicitly state transgender students are entitled to the same protections as all other students. This clarification has been instrumental in securing successful claims on behalf of transgender students like Gavin Grimm, who sued the Gloucester County, Virginia, school system after being denied the right to use the restroom aligned with his gender identification.
Pay attention to voting for local and federal laws that benefit transgender people. This is a huge way for anyone to be an advocate and ally.
Be an advocate and ally.
4. Discrimination And Lack of Representation
Other examples of unfair treatment include less representation because of gender identity, and alerting levels of discrimination.
Almost exactly a year ago, I co-authored an Elite Daily article titled "8 Statistics That Expose The Truth About Transgender Discrimination." This piece explores the irrational prejudices bigots of the world still follow.
Being counted as a person by the US Census has been difficult or impossible for those who don't fit a "typical" male/female gender role.
Healthcare inequality is a major issue for transgender people as are legal issues associated with getting insurance, and obtaining a driver's license documented with the desired gender.
While some places have fluid marriage laws, most states don't allow for "non-traditional" marriages. So, discrimination against trans couples and parents exists.
Biases for finding housing are too frequent because the majority of US states legally allow landlords to choose to not rent homes to transgender people.
This results in homelessness at an alarming rate.
Shelter inequality is a massive issue because many homeless shelters aren't safe spaces for trans people. They can refuse to let people in if their paperwork doesn't match their legal identification.
This homelessness results in transgender people sleeping in the streets and facing arrest.
In jail, there's mistreatment because they're placed into gender-specific living conditions which commonly make them feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
5. Misgendering Is Far Too Common
This concept is simple but still overlooked.
Oftentimes calling someone who's trans by the wrong gender can be a factor in suicide or in channeling suicidal thoughts.
This is especially the case when misgendering is deliberate, but that doesn't make accidental misgendering OK either.
Misgendering isn't OK.
If you aren't sure what a person's preferred pronoun is, referring to them with using "they/them" pronouns is acceptable for most people.
But remember: You can always simply ask your trans friends what they prefer in a supportive, kind manner.
So, How Do We Contribute To Changing Suicide Statistics?
Thankfully, stigmas aimed at transgender people continue to disintegrate.
This is largely to do with individuals and organizations growing and spreading ideas of equality.
Contribute to battling stigmas by calling out transphobic language and actions if you see them.
Do your part in showing support for trans people you know, as well as people transitioning in the future.
These organizations, as well as many others, hugely benefit from money donated or volunteer hours worked.