Imagine living in a country where you are unsure of which bathroom you are allowed to use, where you are characterized as mentally ill and where you have no legal protection against discrimination in work or education in the majority of states. Infuriating, right? According to the Human Rights Campaign, this is the daily life for many transgender people.
Transgender people deal with more than just legal discrimination. According to National Center for Transgender Equality, more than one in four trans people have been the victim of bias-driven assaults. Knowing this fact, there is far too little coverage of trans issues in the news. This lack of coverage leads to a lack of understanding, which enables unnecessary violence.
Transgender people are not only facing violence from outside forces, though. In a study by the Human Rights Campaign, 41.8 percent of non-binary youth said they had attempted suicide. The life expectancy for transgender people is between 30-32 years of age according to Annie Murphy of NPR, which is unsettling and alarming.
A raise in awareness for trans issues could save lives and reduce bigotry. Every person who is a member of the LGBTQ has a duty to protect trans people. This act of love would bring more attention, and could influence those outside of the LGBTQ to fight for the rights of trans people as well.
No matter what religion, race, sexuality, gender (or lack thereof) one identifies with, we are all humans, and we should have the decency to care for each other. Making a few changes to be more aware of and understanding of trans issues is not difficult.
Transgender is not a dirty word, and it needs to be brought into everyday vocabulary. We should make sure to understand some basics about trans people, so as to eliminate the ignorance of so many others surrounding the topic.
The first key to understanding transgender people is to understand gender is socially constructed—it is not something anyone is born with.
Transitioning does not mean becoming a different gender. It is a social change in how one is perceived; they remain the gender with which they have always identified. A trans woman has always been a woman, she has just not always physically presented herself as a woman.
There are many terms that fall under "transgender," and sexual reassignment surgery is not the end-all goal of all trans people. Being a transgender person does not necessarily mean identifying with the opposite gender one is assigned with at birth. It includes non-binary genders, like those who are gender fluid, gender queer or agender.
Even the way we address transgender people calls for more attention. For starters, "transgender" is not a noun, it is an adjective; it should always have a noun following it. A person is not a "transgender" and a group of trans people are not "transgenders." It should go without saying at this point that respecting people’s pronouns is important. If you are unsure of which pronouns to use, simply ask. It is better to ask than to assume.
These are only a few basics that, if taken into account, will show great improvements in trans acceptance. All it takes is more coverage of transgender issues in the news, a basic understanding of transgender issues and human compassion to alter the saddening statistics surrounding trans people.
So yes, it is time to talk about the "T" in LGBTQ. It is time to save lives and aid in making the quality of life better for all humans.