by Stacey Rice.
Recently I came across a story in the Lincoln NE Journal Star concerning the fact that 20 years had passed since the death of Brandon Teena, a young transgender man depicted in the movie “Boys Don’t Cry”. There was a quote in this article that broke my heart.
“A recent survey of 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming people found that 63 percent had experienced serious acts such as the loss of a job, eviction, school bullying so severe the respondent had to drop out, sexual assault or denial of medical treatment, according to a report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.”
Please read that one more time: 63 percent.
In the 20 years since Brandon’s death, have we made progress in gaining rights for transgender people? I would have to say “yes” but transgender people are a small percentage of the overall population and, as the articles states, “That makes a huge difference in the public’s understanding of what it means to be transgender. We end up seeing that reflected in much higher rates of discrimination for transgender people,”
So, as I pondered this, my thoughts came around again to the incredible amount of LGBTQ community energy, time, effort and money being poured into marriage equality. On some days, it seems like that is all I hear, read, etc. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if just a small part of this massive effort was directed toward the incredible needs in the transgender community? Things that most people in the lesbian and gay community take for granted are every day struggles for trans people.
When it comes to marriage, that right doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to the top of the list for most transgender people when you can lose a job, family, and housing, be denied health care or murdered for just being transgender.
I hold out hope that as this marriage thing fades, that the energy, effort, and resources will be focused on the trans community where so much help is needed.
I hold hope, but don’t confuse that with me holding my breath.
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