Over the past year, the slew of news stories about transgender people in this country has heralded the beginning of a new age of acceptance and support for transgender people and their decisions to live as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
Much of the chorus surrounding Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair reveal earlier this month has applauded her beauty and bravery. The actress Laverne Cox, the first transgender person to grace the cover of Time Magazine in June 2014, stars in one of the summer’s hottest shows, Orange is the New Black, as an unapologetically fabulous trans inmate. A lengthy feature in the June 16th issue of New York Times details the medical sexual reassignment journeys, including both surgery and hormone therapy, that many children and teens are embarking on before even finishing puberty.
There is no doubt that, to borrow from the aforementioned New York Times article, we are collectively having “a transgender moment.” It is incredibly heartening to see the mainstream media and Instagram celebrities alike championing such openness and sensitivity, and yes, even getting the pronouns right.
But one inadvertent effect of all of this feel-good rhetoric and public displays of support is to mask the still pervasive issue of violence against transgender people, especially trans people of color. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that a staggering 64% of transgender people have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. That means that a transgender youth in America today will look forward to a life in which he or she is more likely to be sexually assaulted than not. That is shameful.
According to a recent issue brief released by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in partnership with Trans People of Color Coalition (TPCC), compared to their non-transgender LGBQH (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, HIV-positive) peers, transgender people of color were 1.5 times more likely to face sexual violence and 1.8 times more likely to experience bias-based violence in shelters. This means that transgender people (who also experience homelessness at increased rates) seeking the safety of a shelter are likely to be revictimized there.
The same brief reports that in 2014 alone, 13 transwomen were murdered, at least six by men with whom they were romantically or sexually involved.
These stories, while far less glamorous than Ms. Jenner’s transition, are just as important.
The good news is that we can speak up. For too long, vulnerable and marginalized groups have suffered violence and discrimination alone. When crimes are reported, victims often face revictimization by unsympathetic, or downright discriminatory, law enforcement officials. We can change this.
We can make it known that the world is not only watching and supporting transgender people in their right to transition and live freely — and that we saying “no more” to violence against transgender people. Let’s not waste this “transgender moment.”
Take a stand, and say #NOMORE to violence against transgender people.[social_share/]
For dating abuse help and resources, visit loveisrespect.org, call 1-866-331-9474, or text “loveis” to 22522.
For legal support, visit the Transgender Law Center.