We’re living in an exciting time for transgender rights. The transgender and gender non-conforming community has made incredible strides towards visibility and equality. TV stars like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have introduced conversations about transgender issues to thousands of living rooms. The media has told the stories of brave transgender youth who are fighting for their right to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. And on the political stage, public accommodations for transgender people have been the subject of much debate and legislation.
It might be tempting to proclaim victory for the transgender rights movement, but unfortunately, that would be inaccurate. While there is no question that significant progress has been made, the reality is that so much more work needs to be done. Transgender and gender non-conforming people face astronomical rates of violence and homicide, particularly transgender women of color. The transgender community is still routinely denied access to the most basic of human rights, from healthcare to housing to employment. Transgender youth experience disproportionate rates of homelessness, due to family rejection of their identities. And systematic discrimination has led to incredibly high rates of incarceration, placing already disenfranchised people in even greater danger of abuse and violence.
To highlight the healthcare disparities, widespread discrimination, and hate violence still experienced by transgender people on a daily basis, Fenway Health has created the following infographic.
As you can see, the numbers are truly disturbing. So what can be done to combat this discrimination and violence?
On an individual level, we can all be better allies to transgender and gender non-conforming people. Call out transphobic language and behavior where you see it, and explain how transphobia leads to violence. Petition your elected officials to support transgender inclusive public accommodation bills and prison reform. Listen to the transgender people in your life to better understand their challenges and needs. Educate those around you on transgender issues and raise awareness of the community in a positive and affirming way.
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Here’s a simple way to start: To show your support this Transgender Awareness Month, consider changing your Facebook profile picture to the following image for the month of November. It may seem like a small gesture, but publicly proclaiming yourself as an ally creates another safe space for transgender people in a world without many.
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As an organization, Fenway Health is committed to continuously improving our transgender services and resources. We offer affirming and comprehensive medical and behavioral healthcare and support services through our Transgender Health Program. Our Violence Recovery Program is available to those who have experienced transphobic hate violence, police misconduct, sexual assault, or other violent crimes. The Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center is a safe, nonjudgmental space for transgender teens and young adults and their families to find care and understanding. The AIDS Action Committee’s TransCEND program provides peer-run support and risk reduction services to transgender women. And our research center The Fenway Institute is leading the way in educating providers on how to better serve the transgender community and end healthcare disparities.
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This Transgender Awareness Month and every day, let’s pledge to make the world a safe and supportive place for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
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