The State of Our Transgender Union

As we begin a new year we sometimes reflect on the past before we look forward to what’s to come.

2015 was a year where we made some significant gains as a community. Today more people know what transgender is than they did a year ago. Transgender issues are being discussed more than ever before. We scored some groundbreaking legislative wins and suffered a few loses. We suffered heartbreak as we were unable to make change in the unnecessary loss of lives within our community. We also failed to reconcile the unacceptable disparity that faces us both within society and our own community.

We have those who entered the spotlight doing both good and sometimes failing to properly represent us. We have those who are less fortunate for where the spotlight needs to shine. We fought for basic human rights that most people take for granted in their everyday lives.

It is now time for us all to look forward to some of the issues we face. Though I do not list them in order of importance, they are all important. I bring you our first annual “State of Our Transgender Union”

We have to do something about the 41%

Though we have been able to raise awareness to levels previously unattained, we were not successful in bringing down the rate of transgender suicides. Though there is much debate over the actual number and determining an exact rate would most likely be impossible, a rate that is 10 times the national average is most likely short at best. I have yet to meet someone who is transgender who has not contemplated it at one time or another. Until that no longer happens I consider it an emergency.

We need to help those are in need. We cannot turn a blind eye to anyone in our community that reaches out for help. We can lend our support to local community centers, mentor those who are younger and are in need of guidance. We need to support initiatives such as the Transgender Lifeline or the Trevor Project where we can either donate or lend our time. There are also organizations like GLAAD that we can reach out to. We need to do something about the discrimination and bullying that goes on in the communities where we live. We need to educate parents. We also need to press our government harder to enact “Leelah’s Law”, which will ban conversion therapy for minors.

“WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE POVERTY, HOMELESSNESS AND JOBLESSNESS AFFECTING THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY.”

We have to bring down the record high transgender murder rate

In 2015 the transgender murder rate was at a record high as of the November day of remembrance. We are still pending the final numbers. We do know that the rate has climbed every year since 2009. This rate becomes even more astounding as you get more diverse racially and financially. There needs to be more education and participation within our local communities and organizations. We need to do something about the poverty, homelessness and joblessness affecting the transgender community.

We need to help our transgender minorities

34% of citizens who are African American and transgender are unemployed. It is at 28% for the Latino transgender community. Both these groups make 17-43% less income than whites and Asians. 15% of the transgender community as a whole lives in poverty. Many in our community have no access to employment or healthcare. Those of us in stronger positions need to help those less fortunate. We can help with disparity by getting involved with organizations such as the National Center for Transgender Equality and PFLAG. We can reach out to community centers who are in need of help. Most importantly we need to make others aware of this problem and ask them to help.

“WE NEED TO LEND OUR SUPPORT TO ORGANIZATIONS AND POLITICIANS WHO ARE WORKING TO PROTECT TRANSGENDER RIGHTS.”

We need to be ready for more bathroom bills and other legislation

Some say 2015 was the year of the restroom, well it is not going to get any better in 2016. We need to lend our support to organizations and politicians who are working to protect transgender rights. We can make a difference just by showing up to the polls. Many local district elections are won by small majorities. We also need to push to have transgender equality laws passed at a national level. We need to make it easier for transgender individuals to update their identity documents. We must dig in and get involved. We need to make recent policy victories in New York City the example worldwide.

“WE NEED TO ORGANIZE AND MAKE SURE TRANSGENDER HEALTHCARE IS AVAILABLE AT A NATIONAL LEVEL.”

Healthcare

We need to organize and make sure transgender healthcare is available at a national level. As of today many people in the transgender community are uninsured. Those who have access to insurance are not covered for transgender related treatments. Many people are discriminated against by their doctors. Many more are afraid to even go to see a doctor. We need to change this. We need national standards regarding transgender healthcare and procedures. Too often we go to a doctor and we are more educated than they are regarding our medical needs. This needs to improve. We also need to support projects such as My Trans Health.

We need to exceed in all aspects of life

We all need to strive to be the best at what we do. Whether you are an IT Professional, Artist, Teacher, Writer, Cashier or whatever you need to work to be the best one you can be. We need to exceed at all levels. We all represent our community and everything we do affects the next person. We are each the spokesperson for our community. We need to do things better to gain power and acceptance. Nothing will move our cause further forward than our own success. We must then use that success to help those in our community that are less fortunate.

We need to stop promoting those who hate us or are against us

The goal of anti-transgender and radical feminist groups is to make us angry and fight with them via social media and the Internet. They use this tactic to promote their agenda and to bring visitors to their websites. Though there may be a time to go back at these people the best thing we can do is ignore them. Most of these groups are not willing to be educated and will stick to their agenda regardless of the facts. They are set in their beliefs whether we disagree with them or not. We need to be concentrating on educating those who are willing to understand or open to understanding and making an informed decision on the issues. We need to show more restraint. These are a small groups that spread fear to gain leverage. Let’s not give them a forum.

There are many more issues I can bring up and we have heard about them all before. By making progress with these goals we will create the greatest gains for our community in the coming year. Maybe you agree with one, none or all of them. You may want to add a few more. The point is to think about what you can do. I am certainly not our spokesperson. I am just one voice out of many. My goal is to put things out there that make us think about who we are and where we are going. Remember you are the spokesperson for our community. These issues are not just relegated to the United States, they are worldwide. Know that you have tremendous power in what you do day in and day out. We have a lot of work to do.

I want to hear from you so tweet us what you think the biggest issue facing the transgender community is in 2016. You can tweet us @TransgenderU #ReaderRants . You can also send your thoughts via Facebook or use the comments below. We will be posting the most interesting ones in Friday’s “Reader Rant” column.

Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!

Love and Peace,

Mila Madison

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