Advocacy & News

Protecting Trans Rights | Respecting Trans Lives

There is an epidemic that the American Medical Association (AMA) needs us all to be aware of, and they’ve made it clear that while it is being reported on, it isn’t getting the coverage it deserves. And the crisis is getting worse.

Fatal attacks against transgender people have prompted the AMA to adopt a plan to help bring national attention to the epidemic of violence against the transgender community, especially the amplified physical dangers faced by transgender people of color. | AMA June 10th 2019 Press Release

So far in 2019, there have been 15* reported deaths of transgender people in America. All of them were violently killed. All of them, except one White trans male, were transgender women of colour.

All of them had value.

And all of them should be here today. 

Their names are: Dana Martin, Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon, Claire Legato, Muhlaysia Booker, Michelle Tamika Washington, Paris Cameron, Chynal Lindsey, Chanel Scurlock, Zoe Spears, Brooklyn Lindsey, Denali Berries Stuckey, Kiki Fantroy, Jordan Cofer and Pebbles LaDime Doe. *Investigations are currently trying to confirm how/why Johana Medina died hours after leaving ICE custody and how/why Layleen Polcano died in a cell on Riker’s Island.

Although slowly improving, American society still currently enforces uncompromising cultural norms about gender identity and gender-expansive expression — a rigidity that began in this country with the arrival of European colonists who ruthlessly oppressed and enforced their two-gendered rules onto indigenous people, many of whom came from tribal nations that recognized up to six traditional gender orientations.

Even though I’m focusing on what’s going on in the United States in this article, the crisis of violence against trans communities isn’t unique to here — it’s a worldwide issue that is getting progressively worse. To tackle this violence, I would have liked the USA to be a leading light in LGBTQ equality, protection and care, but the current administration is actively trying to strip away the freedoms, rights and protections of our transgender people.

Anti-transgender discrimination is a way to dehumanize people — a classic tactic used by those who seek to oppress others or gain/maintain their own power — because if you can degrade someone’s humanity, you’re under no obligation to defend or respect them or ensure that their basic human rights are met.

photo via The Gender Spectrum Collection

Discrimination against trans people isn’t just about individuals maintaining their own personal, hate-filled, bigoted ideologies, it’s being codified into law. States come up with policies and aim for legislation that restricts public accommodations for LGBTQ or gender-expansive people in our communities. All facets of society are either being denied or denial is being looked into because the right to access services, products and public spaces is constantly being tested to see who can be excluded. Things like bathrooms bans, shops and banks refusing services, landlords turning away or evicting tenants, schools not protecting students from bullying, employers withholding job openings or firing people, healthcare providers refusing to treat people — all based on someone’s identity — is happening right now.

While more states every year strive to pass laws to protect their citizens from discrimination and advance LGBTQ equality, we continue to see lawmakers sponsor bills that invoke religion, pre-empt local protections, and target transgender and nonbinary people to allow, and in some cases mandate, discrimination. | ACLU – Legislation Affecting LGBT Rights Across The Country

As I write this article, the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is currently working on giving federally funded shelters a license to discriminate and turn away transgender people, all while the Dept. Health and Human Services (HHS) have announced a plan to take away protections for trans people that guard against discrimination/denial of treatment and help within healthcare.

empathy over apathy by frances cannon
via Frances Cannon

Too many people let their own discomfort or lack of understanding about transgender equality get in the way of fighting for trans rights and protections. This apathy or fear is what gives power to those who actively look to victimize and oppress anyone who doesn’t conform to their two-gendered worldview. It provides opportunities for public misinformation and scare tactics to spread relatively unchecked (like the false narrative that triggered anti-trans bathroom bans) and then gets used to manipulate opinion and influence extreme law-based restrictions.

If we’re really serious about this country being the land of the free, let’s make sure that it lives up to that for everyone and that equality for one is liberation for all.

photo via The Gender Spectrum Collection

Useful information & ways to help:

Trans Lifeline’s Hotline is a peer support service run by trans people, for trans and questioning callers. Their operators are located all over the U.S. and Canada and are all trans-identified. If you’re in crisis or just need someone to talk to, give them a call. They will offer support and resources to help.

The Trevor Project has a list of international helplines (for those living outside of the USA) aimed at supporting LGBTQ communities. The Trevor Project focuses on crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth, but the site is a great resource for help and support for all ages.

GLAAD shares some great tips on how to be a better transgender ally.

Find out what’s being done in your name with this legislative tracker. It helps you see all proposed U.S. state legislation related to LGBTQ discrimination – including comprehensive nondiscrimination bills, bills blocking local control, anti-transgender bills, and religious refusal bills. Use it to stay informed and contact your elected officials to fight for the right and freedoms of our LGBTQ people.

via Rainbow Railroad who help LGBTQ people escape persecution & violence around the world

21 thoughts on “Protecting Trans Rights | Respecting Trans Lives”

    1. My hope for this post was to provide some education of the issues and to show my support for the LGBTQ+ community, and provide ways to help … and you’re right, it is incredibly sad that religious exemptions are where the lawmakers seem to be — and already are — creating lawful discrimination.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This was an amazingly written post. I 100% agree with you that this is just a terrible thing our society has developed with its hate towards the LGBTQ community. I have several gay friends and one trans friend and honestly to me – I don’t care! I love them as people regardless of who they date or how they identify. It doesn’t matter one way or another to me as long as they are good human beings. It’s truly devastating how our society has become. I can only hope that those of us who support issues such as these can raise our children to be better human beings that what society is made up as currently.

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    1. Thank you so much … and I think you’re right, our society and the people in power making decisions, etc need to do better and live up to the ideals that this country is supposed to be built on. I hope more of us rise up, educate, defend and support our LGBTQ+ family, friends and community members. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. This is such an important topic and thank you for speaking about it! I work in a large call center located in northern Idaho where I manage a team of employees. As you can imagine in this red state there is not a lot of understanding or empathy for the trans community. We recently have had 2 trans people join our company. This caused me to have to have a few discussions with members of my team regarding their behavior. It took a lot in me to not get mad at them, but I decided to see it as an opportunity to educate instead of discipline. What they were doing was not meant to be malicious, or it would have definitely been a disciplinary conversation, it was more that they were refusing to use the pronouns of the other employees.
    As a manager it was my responsibility to correct it, but I was the only manager in my company to do so. A few refused to touch the topic because they feared they would do it wrong, another didn’t want to speak about it because they agreed with the people using wrong pronouns.
    What do you think would be the best way to approach this topic in a work place setting?

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    1. It’s so great that you’re doing what you can. As for a work place setting, it should be written in a policy somewhere that all employees, no matter their gender, gender identity, colour, etc will be treated with respect. If there is nothing specifically written in a policy regarding pronouns then you should definitely request (or help write) that it is. You sound like you’ve handled the situation really well so far — just be aware that while their intent may not be malicious, it is a form of dehumanization and deeply offensive. There may not be harm intended, but harm will be done as they’re essentially saying they don’t see their trans co-workers as whole, valued human beings. If I were the manager, I would make it clear that correctly identifying someone and using their pronouns is a non-negotiable form of respect that all employees have a right to work under and that anyone who refuses after I’ve spoken to them will have to undergo some kind of training, etc. I think leading by example (as you have) is a great place to start, so be encouraging and inclusive and show that all the people you oversee are equal and important.
      Thank you for being as thoughtful as you have, the world will be better for the kindness you’ve shown.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know that we have a policy regarding respecting others, but I don’t think it has anything specific regarding transgenders or gender identity. The company I work for is great and there are yearly training for employees regarding all members of the LBGTQ+ community, but like most companies I believe they are behind in having a written policy for gender identification. We have an internal business resource group that may have more information regarding a policy or helping write one for our department. I will definitely look into it! Thank you for the suggestion.

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  3. It’s so important to share posts like these because whilst it was extremely informative, it’s also so shocking to learn just how much overt hatred and violence there is towards the trans community. I really don’t understand the hatred towards these people, it makes me so sad. Thank you for this post, it’s needed

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  4. Lgbt hate crimes have risen a lot in the uk too. It’s awful and disgusting and makes me worried about leaving the house in case one day someone decided I’m too queer :/ you’ve put the info together well, we need more talk about this!

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      1. Thank you for writing about it! I identify as trans (specifically nonbinary) and it’s hard fighting against it without allies so hopefully this post will help cisgender people understand and try to be more active as allies 🙂

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