It has taken a long time, but society is now beginning to accept homosexuality. We still have a long way to go, but thus far, enormous progress has been made. The stigma of “gay” is much less than it was just a decade ago. For trans people, the journey is only beginning.
Being “gay” is an orientation…a choice of sex partner, how we are attracted to others. Being trans is about the self, body image, how we see ourselves. It is not an orientation or a preference, it is a state of being. This makes a lot of people uncomfortable, because they don’t know where to place us.
We have TERFs (trans-excluding-radical-feminists). You would think that feminists generally would be hugely supportive of trans issues and rights, as trans people are as or more likely to experience male violence. Even the gay community is not always sure what to do with us.
Consider for a moment. In the West, 20% of trans people have been homeless…In the rest of the world, this figure rises to an estimated 50%. The median income in the West for a trans person is less than half of what it is for the general population. One-third of trans people have been raped or sexually assaulted—three times higher than for women generally (please note that these figures are widely thought to be under-reported in both cases). These assault figures against trans people apply for trans men, trans women, and non-binary people generally. Speaking personally, I know that people will look at me and make assumptions about what I will welcome or not, just because I look different.
The root cause? The patriarchy. In this system, rigid gender identities are part of the narrative. Women are submissive; men dominate. This is not helpful for anyone. The last 4 years of American politics showed just how nasty and divisive that narrative can be. Toxic masculinity kills. For everyone’s sake, we must smash the patriarchy.
Almost two-thirds of trans people have reported being actively discriminated against. 20% of trans people have reported being pushed towards conversion therapy. 70% of trans people report high or very-high levels of emotional distress (v. just 7% of the general population). Almost 60% of trans people consider suicide. There is a mental health crisis in the trans world. This is severely and acutely exacerbated by the low levels of social acceptance of trans people and our issues. With only 1% of people thought to experience true gender dysphoria, we are a true minority group, whose existence seems to threaten some of the very people that would be most likely to help us or take our side. Our fear of male violence is rooted in fact just as it is for women.
I know from my own life if I am out and about and dressed in a way that blurs the binary I do not pass invisibly. Men, when they notice me, either look at me with a mix of surprise and distaste or something more leery, and sometimes both. Women always notice. Some of them are demonstrably positive, going out of their way to say something supportive, but others look at me with anger, like I am trying to steal their man or that I am trying to compete with them. No miss, it is you I am attracted to!
You can be sure that the trans community would be a lot healthier if people didn’t hate us so much. Bathrooms and sports are a lot less important to us than pronouns and acceptance.
We need your help. As long as we will struggle for acceptance, struggle to find work, struggle to be able to move in society like anyone else, we will be pushed to the fringes, into hiding, to suicide, and to exploitation. While that is a tragedy that is personal for us, the measure of any society is how it treats its marginals, its minorities. We need to move beyond hate for all groups.