Sierra Canyon High School

Opinion: We Must Protect Trans Rights

The transgender community is made up of people that identify with a different gender than the assigned sex they are born to. They can be male, female, genderqueer, nonbinary, agender or anything do else that they feel they most closely identify with. Some people know they’re trans when they are a child and some know before puberty or even much later on in life.

The importance of transgender rights is something that people often overlook because of personal prejudice or uncertainty. But that should not be the case. In fact, they should be given even more protection because in their lifetime, as a transgender person, they will face more discrimination and danger than most people will, ever.

Transgender people struggle with a lack of legal protection, poverty, harassment, stigmas, violence, poor healthcare, limited job opportunities and identity documents.

They have been underrepresented for years, and in many places laws don’t even protect them from discrimination. In fact, the first openly transgender woman was only recently elected and seated in a state legislature in November, 2017. So up until the end of last year, transgender people have had to abide by laws that were created by people who have little interest in their well-being.  

They also have an incredibly hard time when it comes to living situations and poverty. Many landlords will deny trans people a place to live solely because they are transgender. Because of that, many trans people are forced to live in uncomfortable living situations and suffer from extreme poverty. Trans people, especially trans women and trans people of color, are more likely to face all of these and a greater chance of HIV, AIDS and homelessness.

On top of all of that, they also face a higher risk of harassment. Because of long-lasting and false stigmas, like that trans people are mentally ill or sexual predators, they are demonized and exposed to many threats. Seventy-two percent of the victims of LGBTQ or HIV-motivated hate violence homicides in 2013 were transgender women, and 67 percent were transgender women of color, according to a report done by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

There are even more stats from that study, like that transgender people of color are 6 times more likely to experience violence from the police. Over two thirds of homicide victims in 2013 were trans women.

All transgender people are 3.7 times more likely to experience violence. Trans women are 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence. In 2016 there were at least 23 deaths due to violence. And 78 percent of those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported harassment. And for 15 percent of those surveyed, the harassment was so severe that it led them to leave school.

Another survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force showed even more unbelievable stats like that 34 percent of black and 28 percent of Latinx transgender and gender non-conforming respondents had a household income of less than $10,000 a year.

Forty-one percent of black and 27 percent of Latinx transgender and gender non-conforming respondents had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, and when they tried to go to a homeless shelter 40 percent of black participants and 45 percent of Latinx participants were denied access.

More shocking stats came from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2014 report on gender-expansive youth, like that 40 percent of gender-expansive youth reported being left out by their peers “frequently or often,” and only 43 percent said they had a supportive family member to turn to for support. And turning to law enforcement is not easy for the community because transgender people also face biased treatment from police and even harassment and sexual harassment from police.

That being said, the treatment of transgender people has improved from how it used to be. More transgender people feel comfortable enough to come out, and more people are being accepting of those who come out. But still, there are even more issues on top of these that transgender people are simply guaranteed to face.

Many people have done their part in advocating for trans rights, but there is still much more to be done. Most people in their lifetime will know a transgender person, which means most people will have the opportunity to be kind to them accord them the respect they deserve. Transgender people are people just like anyone else and there is no reason they should be treated any differently.  

The word transgender is intimidating to many people, but the people behind the word are just your average friends, neighbors, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and people. Of all professions, ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds, transgender people aren’t weird or different, they’re just normal people with friends, families, and lives just like anyone else.