I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
Transgender Visibility Matters
#TransDayOfVisibility: Living Truth
I missed writing about the Transgender Day of Visibility due to simply not being in my home long enough to write something meaningful, and I'm kind of kicking myself for it.
I am a Gay Straight Alliance (or Gender and Sexuality Alliance, depending on which you prefer) faculty representative at my school, and I really try to pay attention to the awareness days that come up during the year for the LGBTQ community. The #TransDayOfVisibility was yesterday, March 31, for those who may have missed the news, and yes, it's important.
Those individuals who identify as transgender still struggle for years to come to terms with who they really are. Further to that, once they decide to live their respective truths, they are still very much taking their lives into their own hands; members of the transgender community are still targets of violence, both by strangers and by friends and family who may not necessarily agree with their decision to live as they ultimately are, and members of the trans community are still far more likely to end up homeless due to discriminatory practices that continue to exist in our supposedly-enlightened 21st century world.
Lauren Sundstrom, who came out to her parents as a transgender woman at the age of 16, works as a social media consultant for Lush Cosmetics. While she says that her parents received the news with a great deal of love and support, she also acknowledges that in many ways, she is one of the lucky ones.
"Many transgender people who aren’t as privileged as me are silenced every single day," she notes in a TeenVOGUE article she penned.
She also says that not long after coming out to her parents, she effectively re-closeted herself. The path after coming out, at times, can be as difficult as the path towards the decision to come out, and it seems in Sundstrom's case, she was no exception. It wasn't until she began working for Lush and the launch of their Trans Rights are Human Rights campaign, launched in conjunction with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, helped her realize that she could live publicly as a trans woman.
Sundstrom realizes how very lucky she has been in her experiences. She's received full support from her parents, in addition to having a good job and being able to live above the poverty line. There are those individuals who identify as trans who aren't so fortunate. According to a Toronto Sun article, those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender make up about 5 to 10 percent of the Canadian population, yet make up anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of the homeless youth population. These kids leave home after coming out because they know their safety might be compromised, yet life isn't any safer on the streets, where they might be victims of assault and just violence in general. The Toronto Sun also cites statistics from Homeless Hub, which states around 33 percent of transgender youth will be turned away from a homeless shelter.
These sorts of statistics are incredibly frightening, and make me wonder about why, for too many people in today's world, someone identifying as transgender is still a problem.
Canadian comic Colin Mochrie came up with a great analogy when he was initially working through his own child's coming out as transgender. He said while he and his wife were both concerned for her safety, he wondered somehow if the kid they had known for years had somehow just vanished. He noted, according to CBC, that he quickly realized that Kinley was the exact same kid "with a different coat on."
While that is very definitely an oversimplification, how much easier would it be for those who are struggling to accept individuals as transgender - whether they are strangers or friends and family - if they viewed the person with much the same lens? A person saying they are transgender does not fundamentally change who that person is, yet even in the 21st century, there are those who trash those that identify as trans for no other reason than they are different.
Transgender people should not have to feel they need to live in the closet. They have the right to their humanity and life in the same way as anyone else does, yet they need to live their lives with a courage that often must go above and beyond what everyone else must deal with, in many respects. Every person who identifies as trans must be able to feel safe enough to live their respective truths and yet, in many pockets of the world, we still don't have that.
It's my hope that with yesterday's Trans Day of Visibility, and with every other one after that, we can spread compassion and understanding among those who continue to embrace prejudice and discrimination. To quote the Lush campaign, trans rights are human rights; let's celebrate each other's humanity.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Fletcher Sebastian Wellings from Doylestown, PA on April 01, 2018:
Thank you for writing about this; I've seen so many anti-LGTB+ articles pop up and I'm so grateful that yours came top to the homepage. This gives me hope that they're more accepting people in this world! (Especially since you're an ally!)
I hope others who are not as accepting read this and realize what Transgender Day of Visibility is all about.