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.
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.
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.
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.