Handwriting by Marisa Mangum
Today, we are recognizing International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV), which is celebrated annually on March 31. TDoV is a day dedicated to reflecting on the achievements made by transgender and gender nonconforming individuals and their supporters, and it’s also an opportunity to raise awareness about the trans community and the oppression these individuals still face in today’s society.
Transgender individuals have a personal and gender identity that is not the same as the gender that they were assigned at birth. Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being a man, a woman, or any gender outside these two identities.1 Transgender people can realize they are transgender at any time in their lives, no matter the age.
Approximately 1.4 million people in the United States identify as transgender, according to a study. And many states, including California, Florida, and Texas, have 100,000 or more residents who identify as transgender.2
But the statistics regarding the oppression, harassment, and violence these individuals face are alarming. For instance, 41 percent of respondents reported that they had attempted suicide.3 They are also four times more likely to live in poverty and are also more likely to experience harassment in school, be denied a job, and face abuse. Transgender individuals, especially transgender women of color, face extremely high rates of homelessness, incarceration, and murder.
2016 was recorded as the deadliest year for transgender individuals in the United States; 27 transgender individuals were killed, which is an increase of six people from 2015, when 21 transgender deaths — primarily the deaths of transgender women of color — were reported.4 These statistics do not include the deaths that haven’t been reported due to misidentifying and/or misgendering. And already in 2017, as of March 16, seven transgender women have been killed. We take this time to remember and think of the women who were killed in these tragedies; their names are Ciara McElveen, Chyna Gibson, Jaquarrius Holland, Keke Collier, Mesha Caldwell, Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, and JoJo Striker.5
Most recently, one of the most controversial topics affecting transgender people is bathroom access. In the span of three years, from 2013 to 2016, at least 24 states were considering putting these bathroom bills into place.6 Based on this law, people would be required to use public accommodations based on the gender they were assigned on their birth certificates, which would prevent transgender people from using public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. These laws would put trans people at an event greater risk of being harassed or assaulted in public restrooms.
Laverne Cox is a transgender actress, producer, and activist, and she’s best known for her role in “Orange Is The New Black” and speaking up for the rights of transgender individuals. Cox spoke on “CBS This Morning” about how bathroom bills affect trans people.
“What people should know about these bathroom bills that criminalize trans people — criminalize me going to the women’s room — is that these bills are not about bathrooms,” Cox said. “They’re about whether trans people have the right to exist in public space. If we can’t access public bathrooms, we can’t go to school, we can’t work, we can’t go to health care facilities.”
Other bills that have been considered and that have brought about controversy are health care bills and school bills that affect transgender youth.7
The theme for 2017’s TDoV is #TransResistance. Please join us in standing up for the rights of transgender people throughout the world. It’s important to have open conversations, listen to the stories of transgender people, learn about and share information about8 what it means to be transgender, and support these individuals.
3 National Center for Transgender Equality
5 The Washington Post
6 National Conference of State Legislatures
7 National Center for Transgender Equality
8 National Center for Transgender Equality