Today is the international day of transphobia and homophobia. So what is transphobia? The definition of transphobia in the Oxford Dictionary is “an intense dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people”, while the definition for homophobia is “an intense dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people”.
I would like to focus today on transphobia.
In the USA in the last couple of months there has been some significant activity. Some laws have been passed that don’t help the issue. Although these do not directly affect the UK; these laws don’t set a good precedent. I shall talk about the North Carolina House Bill 2, otherwise known as the “Bathroom Bill”. For those who are not aware of this, the North Carolina bill denies transgender people the use of the bathroom which matches their gender identity. This is justified on various grounds; that the gender you were assigned at birth is the gender you are and if you identify as something different then there must be something wrong with you, or that you must be some sort of predator, while there is also the fear that a straight man could dress in women clothes and say they are transgender just to get in to the women’s toilets so they could assault somebody. The other side to the “Bathroom Bill” is that a transgender person who has had sex reassignment surgery could be assaulted going into the bathroom. Opponents of the “Bathroom Bill” says that laws like these help promote transphobia and should never be considered for inclusion into law. There are also large companies opposed to the law and who are trying to get North Carolina to change their mind about the bill by threatening to take opportunities out of North Carolina. There have even been musicians and other entertainers refusing to perform there until the law is changed so that the transgender community can use the bathroom that they feel most comfortable using. But this isn’t just something that happens in America, it happens all over the world. While this is happening in America, in the UK trans and homosexual people are protected under the Equality Act of 2010 as these are protected characteristics under this legislation.
Whenever I leave the house I am constantly getting dirty looks and nasty comments from strangers just for going out dressed how I feel comfortable and this happens to trans people on a daily basis. Research has found that in America alone 41% of transgender and gender non-conforming have attempted suicide. This is in stark contrast to the national average of 4.6%. While there are many factors that drive trans people to attempt suicide one of the big factors is how people react to them and how employers treat them after they come out of the proverbial closet. Many trans people don’t feel safe using public toilets and would rather wait until they get home but when that is not possible shouldn’t they be able to ‘pee in peace’ in the toilet that they feel most comfortable using. The fact is trans people just want acceptance we don’t want to be treated like outcasts or freaks
Another factor in the attempted suicide rate is people using trans people as fetishes or sexually assaulting trans people. It seems to be something which most if not all trans people go though and I get the feeling that whenever a trans person is seriously sexually assaulted that they try to go about life as if nothing has happened. Research suggests that approximately 50% of trans people have at some point experienced sexual violence and 1 in 10 trans people have been sexually assaulted in a healthcare setting. Even I have found myself victim to this and its always on occasions when I am feeling really low or almost suicidal. People message you with compliments and play with your insecurities to get things like photos or video chats and usually these are of a sexual nature; then when the chat is over I find myself feeling even worse but also used and violated to some extent. I have even found myself contemplating suicide after one occasion; but then I thought no why should I let people defeat me. I think because we as a society don’t openly talk about Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) issues that we have enabled discrimination to spread and the longer we avoid talking about these types of issues openly then discrimination and transphobia will continue to be a serious problem.
the links can be found below