Transgender Awareness Month
I can only speak from my own perspective. It is the perspective of a woman who is trans. I do not speak for all trans people. I really don’t believe someone can because everyone's journey is so unique.
Transgender people make up a very small portion of the population. Surveys have it estimated at approximately 1%, though I have seen polls that suggest higher numbers to almost 5%. This suggests that 95-99% of the population is made up cisgender individuals, that is, people whose gender identity aligns with their gender assigned at birth. These numbers have created an atmosphere of cisnormativity, the idea that everyone is and should be cisgender..
So much of the discrimination I have faced seems to have come from the widespread of cisnormativity in the workplace and the world around me. This consistent isolation trans people experience in social interactions has created a environment of exclusion that has led to a damaging and narrow view of gender. This omits trans people. Rather than embracing and celebrating someone's transness, they can be viewed as deviant. The closer a trans person comes to assimilation (also known as going stealth, or not being perceived as trans) into cisgender culture the less discrimination they will be subject to, conversely the further they are from assimilation the more discrimination they will be subject to. It is also important to note: this can create an everyday sense of concern or fear of being “found out” as well as insurmountable hurdles for the nonbinary person.
The gender binary roots in cisnormativity is where many microaggressions or transphobic slurs not only exist but are perpetuated. They can occur explicitly or implicitly: Misgendering done with intent, deadnaming, i.e. using someone's former name, asking questions about someone's sexuality and body parts, and many more. The existence of these microaggressions only strengthens the cisnormative culture.
We are not considered equals to women or men. This is never more evident than when we look at the unemployment rate, homelessness, high crime victimization, and suicide rates that hover at around 40%. Not to mention the countless laws are being passed with the intent to erase and eliminate transgender people, and specifically trans youth, with active and escalating politicized legal attacks against trans youth.
There is a hatred towards transgender people, but we are people. I am a teacher, a mentor. a sister, a daughter, a woman, an advocate, an activist and a proud member of the LGBTQIA2S+ family.
By Sadie Redfern, GLSEN Arizona Board Member