Since January of this year, a transgender person was murdered somewhere around the globe every 29 hours. Additionally, trans people are statistically at a much greater risk to commit suicide; the rate of suicide in the general population is under 10 percent, yet within the trans community it is over 40 percent. Dr. Alex Abramovich, a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, says, "Transphobia leads to suicide. End of story."
Global's 16x9, an investigative newsmagazine television program, aired a poignant piece that is a must watch for everyone--regardless of your thoughts on trans rights. It's available to stream on YouTube:
This video highlights some of the many examples in which trans people are demonized, oppressed, and attacked on a daily basis. These attacks are not always quite so overt. In the last few weeks, a deplorable petition on change.org circulated its way through the web, "Drop the T" was an effort to exclude trans people from the queer community. Those who created the petition say, "We are a group of gay/bisexual men and women who have come to the conclusion that the transgender community needs to be disassociated from the larger LGB community." They promote this with false rhetoric and inflammatory insinuations in their posts.
This way through this crisis is common sense, love, and understanding. "If you go through life and people are continually using the wrong name or the wrong pronoun to refer to you, you start to question your mind. You start to question your own mental health. You start to eventually believe that you aren't real and maybe you shouldn't exist." Dr. Abramovich continues, "When people can't figure you out, they get angry. They're afraid. They get aggressive."
Christine Newman, a transgender activist and advocate, gives us some advice to help support trans people, "Call us by our name and pronouns. Respect that we are human, too. Please don't out us to strangers. Stop killing us and stand with us to fight for our right to exist." Christine, who appeared in the 16x9 program, received supportive feedback from many friends who didn't know much of what she's been through to which she responded, "I would not change one thing about my life, it has caused me to be the woman who stands in front of you now." In Christine's words, we all need to "realize the courage it takes for us to live our own truth every day."
Compassion needs to be the illuminating force that ends the violence and harassment. No one has the right to accost someone else -- for any reason, and certainly not for being true to themselves. There is much we can do to support our trans friends, for instance:
- Support the adaptation of 'gender neutral' restrooms
- Expose yourself to media discussing trans issues
- Speak up when someone makes jokes about gender identity
- Make an effort to use the pronouns or terminology each individual identifies with --for more on this, check out Queer Voices' "Pronouns are Important" by JayJay Conrad
- Don't ask to see 'before' photographs (for more on why, check out Christine Newman's Queer Voices article "A Teachable Moment About Photographs"
- Don't ask about someone's genitalia
- Don't ask about someone's status of transition--or what plans are being considered
- Don't give unasked-for makeup or fashion advice
It is a sad statement about society that someone can even make a list like this--let alone have it be relevant. The golden rule is as applicable today as during yesteryear: treat others, as you yourself would like to be treated.