The Forgotten T in LGBT+

March 26, 2021 | Texas

*****TW: Some of the links below link to information that some may find triggering. This includes transphobic remarks, mentions of d**th and s***cide. Links that contain this information will be marked with asterisks.

I’m from a small rural town in Texas and didn’t have reliable access to the internet until I was in middle school. I didn’t have the language to talk about my sexuality, let alone my gender. I knew I was different sexuality-wise at the age of 7, gender-wise around the age of 12. While some trans folks know from a very young age that they are trans, I didn’t realize that I was trans until I had formed secondary sex characteristics and was able to see that others felt similarly dysphoric. Prior to finding trans folks online, I thought that everyone must feel like they’re performing. When I realized that my performance should end, I came out to my sibling. I was 14 at the time. Being out where I lived however was dangerous. While I had come out as bisexual in the 6th grade, the level of bigotry and fear that accompanied the sharing of that identity was less. I worried about violence and was on the receiving end of insults and condemnations but I was largely able to joke about it, stating that they were just mad because girls liked me more than they liked them. Despite my ability to joke, I was gay in the age of the September suicides***** and held a somber view of sexuality. I knew that my identities were barriers. I was the only out trans kid that I knew. When I came out as trans I lost friends. I lost what little safety I had left. I lost what little respect and understanding that my mother, who had not spoken to me for days after I had come out as bisexual, had left. In a place with Nazis and Klan I was alone.

Transgender people are highly civically engaged despite facing more barries to employment and education than our cisgender community members.  It is crucial that we create inclusive and diverse programs for our youth which include trans rights as a priority. This is especially true given the numerous anti-trans bills in multiple state legislatures and the continued discrimination against trans people. One of the most concerning bills in the Texas legislature, HB 68, would constitute gender affirming care for minors as child abuse. This would ensure that doctors are unable to provide this life saving care (which often remains inaccessible to many who need it) and could result in legal action against parents trying to do right by their children. HB 1399 would exclude gender affirming care for minors from professional liability insurances. . Alabama recently passed SB10, a bill that would not only outlaw gender affirming care but would require that counselors and teachers out trans children to their parents. These bills ignore guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the lived experience of trans youth. These bills represent a social and systemic misunderstanding of trans people and the consistent and intense discrimination we face.

Black trans women suffer the worst levels of discrimination in this country and continue to be murdered and assaulted at higher rates than the non-black trans community. They face discrimination not only from cisgender heterosexual society but from within the LGBT+ community despite having been at the forefront of the equality movement for decades. Our advocacy needs to not only include trans people, but needs to acknowledge the intersectionality of oppression. Not only am I transgender, but I have been poor my entire life, am physically and mentally disabled, indigenous and Mexican, 2nd generation, and from a rural area. Trans people experience extreme poverty (under 10,000 a year) at four times the rate of cis people. We struggle to find employment more than our cisgender community members. If I was born moreno instead of blanquito, I would have even more difficulty in finding and maintaining employment. 

Transgender people have existed for as long as humanity has and we have made a lot of progress as a community despite the level of oppression that we face. The appointment of Dr. Rachel Levine to Assistant Secretary of Health is historic. However, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), just like in the confirmation hearing of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, issued transphobic remarks and questions***** regarding policies around transgender youth. While we continue to fight for the ability to live our lives safely and authentically, we need support from our cisgender community members. Transgender people are not here to destroy the women’s rights movement. Just as our oppression is intersectional, so must be our advocacy and feminism. People claim to care about the LGBT+ community but do not include transgender people in their work in significant ways. People need to show up for us because, as is abundantly clear this session, plenty of people would rather see us dead.

School children have been the main target of this oppressive legislation. Teachers need to implement classroom procedures that include trans people. Calling roll using their last name only and including pronouns in introductions will help to create a safe space. If there is an LGBT student organization at your school, ask what you can do to help. If there is not one, propose one. Not only do these groups create a safe environment for students to express themselves but they can lay the foundation for consistent civic habits into adulthood. Submit testimony to school boards, city councils, representatives, and senators. Attend pride parades. Volunteer for the Trevor Project or Trans Lifeline. Lastly, stand up for the trans people in your life. If you are not anti-racist you uphold the oppressive system – the same reasoning applies here. Until we have widespread calls to action and get cisgender support in our organizing work we will continue to be in danger.