This has been a thrilling year for transgender rights with steps towards visibility and equality being made by governments, organisations, schools and media all over the world. In 2018, transitioning and living as a transgender individual has become less of a taboo subject thanks to blogs/vlogs shared by people who transitioned or are in the process of transitioning, organisations introducing new staff policies and staff training schemes in order to protect trans people from workplace discrimination and hate crime within their workplace, or even television programmes.
For example, the actor Laverne Cox, known for her role as Sophia Burset on the series ‘Orange is the New Black’, managed to raise awareness on the life of transgender people of colour and the challenges they might face behind the bars, including denials of medical care and lengthy stays in solitary confinement.
Finally, the recent news of Scotland being set to become the first country in the world to teach LGBTI issues in schools is another reason to celebrate one more step made to reduce homophobia, transphobia and prejudice.
However, while progress has been made, there is still a great deal of progress that must be made in order to achieve equality and inclusivity. Firstly, getting access to medical assistance before or during the transition can be very expensive, or complicated, or both, depending on the country of residence. For example, for someone to be classified as a trans person in the UK, they must prove to a doctor that they have been trans for their whole life and if the doctor believes that they are not ‘trans enough’, they can be refused the help they need.
Also, even if they successfully start transitioning, a transgender person can only apply for a Gender recognition certificate, in order to be legally recognised as a trans woman or a trans man, only if they have lived in their acquired gender for two or more years. That can cause unnecessary problems in the everyday life of a trans person, such as ID checks that can cause unwanted comments or an awkward attention, that may lead to low self-esteem and anxiety.
Moreover, the violence against transgender people is a shocking fact within the LGBT+ community and it is sadly increasing instead of diminishing. In 2018, there’ve been reports of thousands of trans people being victims of verbal or physical assault and dozens of murdered victims all over the world.
For example, Naomi Hersi, 36, got stabbed to death in London on Sunday 18 March 2018 and earlier in the year a transgender woman in Pakistan died after being set on fire when she resisted sexual assault.
In my point of view, the worst part of this whole situation is that violence against trans people is such a common behaviour that is considered something normal and expected for some and that is something we need to erase completely from our minds, since violence, in any form, is not something normal and no one should get used to it!
Coming back to progress now, there are many things that need to be done to protect a minority of people, who simply want to be seen and treated equally and live their lives freely and with their head up high. To achieve that they need allies. They are respectful and openminded cis gendered people, who are willing to learn more about the trans community, challenge transphobia when they spot it and actively work to include trans people in all aspects of life, simply because no one has to be something more or less than who they are just to be accepted by a heteronormative society.
Happy Trans Awareness week and highlight the 20 November as the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a Memorial Day for all the people who lost their lives due to anti-trans violence around the world.