“How can educating yourself on the Trans community help to create positive change?”
Growing up, do you remember your parents or other family members talking about transgender individuals? If so, this is the paper for you! Now ask yourself, were these conversations ever positive ones? Most likely not, as the stigma surrounding transgender/ gender non conforming individuals is usually negatively received. Which is why this paper is even more imperative for the parents and family in question; it’s essentially a guide on how to be a decent human being and respect others who might just so happens to be different from you. As of 2021 the Trans community is one of the most endangered groups of people in America, more specifically Trans woman of color. So much so that the average life expectancy for a Trans Woman in the US is at an all time low from in between 2020-2021, while hate crimes are at an all time high. Hearing of such cruelties, has led Cis gendered individuals to wonder how they can make good allies and what they need to do in order to insight positive change.
I’m one of those many people who did not grow up in a tolerant household when it came to the topic of being transgender. My family (more specifically my older family) would often say stuff like “i’m okay with gay people, but changing your gender is going too far”. Luckily these conversations and view points never settled on my brain, so often times i would find myself questioning why it was such a big deal or any of their business. Now that i’m older and more aware of the world, i realized that these hateful conversations held in my house and amongst family members were the least of any Transgendered individuals issues and that their very lives were on the line.
Hate crimes against Transgender individuals isn’t anything new, however unlike most hate crimes that decrease with time, these hate crimes seem to only have increased over the years. It has even more so affected Trans women of color, and these crimes do not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. According to the article Fatal violence against the transgender and gender non conforming community in 2020 by The human Rights Campaign “ Sadly, 2020 has already seen at least 44 transgender or gender non conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means, the majority of which were Black and Latino transgender women”. By October 2020, 44 Trans women were murdered by violent means with the majority of which being women of color, they then go on to state “Since HRC began tracking this data in 2013, advocates have never seen such a high number at this point in the year”. This tells us that within the past 7-8 years more Trans women have been killed in 2020 than each year individually. However harassment and bigotry has been affecting the the Transgender community for a very long time.
In August of 2020, a video circulated of three Trans women that were attacked and harassed in Hollywood(with two of them being Trans women of color). ABC news covered the topic and included a clip of these women sharing their experience, and how traumatizing the whole ordeal was; One of the women goes on to state “Because we are Trans, nobody cares”. ABC news states that in 2017 there were 119 reported crimes against Trans women, and 168 reported hate crimes in 2018. This means that hate crimes increased 42% in only one year, and these numbers have only climbed from them until 2021. What makes this situation all the more troubling is that bystanders either just watched or edged on the assailants and seemingly were in support of these three women being attacked. The transphobia was even seen through social media as many bigots voiced their opinions in the comment section under the video. Furthermore no one provided any aid when one of the women was laid out in the street after being hit in the head with a glass bottle by the alleged assailant. In moments like these it would have benefited those women to have strong allies, not only to stand up for them but to help educate individuals and denote bigotry against transgender/ gender nonconrming individuals. However a lot of people don’t know how to be a good ally, nor do they know how to educate themselves on the Transgender community.
There are many ways to become a better ally to the Transgender community, however it is important to note that there is no such thing as being the perfect ally. Each transgender or gender non conforming individual has had different experiences, which means they will all have different needs and accommodations. Thus meaning that each individual situation could and most likely will have to be handled differently. According to the text Supporting the transgender people in your life: a guide to being a good ally By The national center for transgender equality, one good way to be an ally would be to interact with transgender people. It is important that you learn how to interact with a transgender individual. This could mean learning about and how to ask for their pronouns, being aware of the questions you ask, respecting their privacy, and trying to avoid stereotypes.
I luckily have the blessing of having multiple transgender friends, and hearing their experiences and stories were always really eye opening. Though i was always in support of them stepping into their true identity (as i am in the LGBT community as well), i believe it’s also really important to learn new things and take notice to things you wouldn’t have before. Not only did this make me a better ally, but it made me a better person and a better friend.
Furthermore you can also be a good ally by being outspoken, according to the text you help when you “speak out in support of transgender people and transgender rights”. In doing so you can kindly correct other is they use the wrong pronouns for a Transgender individual, or deadname them (essentially meaning calling them by their pre transition name). You can also speak up against injustice in person and on social media, especially if the issue is as physical as the example given in the first paragraph.
One more way to be a good ally would be to remember the basics, as these can help to not only make you comfortable but them also. According to the aforementioned text it is important to remember “You don’t have to understand someone’s identity to respect it….you can’t always tell if someone is transgender by looking at them….there is no one right way to be transgender…” and to “continue to educate yourself”. That last point is very important because not only can you educate yourself by speaking to Transgender individuals but you can also go out and do your own individual research. The most important thing to remember when educating yourself is that you’ll be better educated when you listen to an actual transgender person opposed to a cis individual speaking on their behalf.
One of the best ways to ensure that there is a definite positive future for Trans youth would be to educate our kids from an early age. In How to teach your kid what Transgender means by Emily Gerson, she states that educating the youth all begins with you. You must be aware of your attitude and biases, along with educating yourself too. “If you (the parent) express that being trans is wrong or something to be ashamed of, even through verbal cues, they’ll notice”. This means that educating the future leaders and adults of the world, begins with educating ourselves and relearning what it truly means to be an ally.
Though we are still a ways away from being the perfect ally, it is important that we take notice of the issues that the Trans community goes through as it affects us all. The more we educate ourselves and help by defending them against bigotry and hate, the more lives we not only protect but save. Maybe then we can start seeing a decrease in hate crimes against Trans woman and the Trans community as a whole, it all begins with us.
(i attempted putting my three sources into MLA format, however enough information was not provided for me to do so).