One Equal World

Archive for the ‘Trans’ Category

The trans symbol painted on the palm of an unidentified individual.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Zeke Smith, a contestant on Survivor, was recently outed as a trans by another contestant. The intent behind this was malicious, as it was intended to paint him as dishonest and therefore get him kicked off the show. But it didn’t go that way, as the rest of the cast and the majority of the audience saw this as the disgusting act it was: an act of violence against a trans person.

Many trans people choose to keep their gender history a secret because it can be dangerous to come out. It has nothing to do with deception. Trans people face a high risk of being assaulted or even murdered due to their identity. All things considered, it’s pretty understandable that many choose to keep their transition hidden.

But there’s another reason that trans people choose not to come out; it’s because their current identity is the one they see as their authentic identity. A trans man is not a woman pretending to be a man, but a man. It’s not a hard concept to grasp.

This is in sharp contrast to coming out as gay, since many gay men and women view coming out as an opportunity to live their authentic lives. Being in the closet as a gay person means pretending to be something that you are not, but there isn’t a cultural stigma attached to coming out like there is to being trans. The narrative is one of celebrating the authentic life of a gay person, as opposed to feeling deceived by a trans person.

Outing a trans person is an act of violence in that it sets them up for brutality at that hands of other people and strips them of their own agency. Nobody has any right to the knowledge of another person’s gender history, and they sure as hell don’t have the right to announce that history to anyone else, least of all on national television.

A bathroom with a gender sign on it that says, "who cares?"

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Trans bathrooms are a hot button issue right now. Conservative pundits argue that if trans people are permitted to use the women’s restroom, there will be a massive increase in rapes, child molestation cases, and peeping Tom incidents. Even though experts have already proven this notion to be false, this “predator myth” still stubbornly persists despite zero evidence to support it.

What the latest research does show is that not allowing trans people to use the restroom of the gender they identify is incredibly harmful to our children. In other words, the future of society is at stake and it’s up to us to ensure that we create a more inclusive environment for our youth.

The study found that ensuring the safety of trans students in high school bathrooms is essential to providing them with educational equality. Based on surveys of five schools in Michigan conducted in 2014, researchers found that trans students who didn’t feel safe in the bathroom generally didn’t feel safe at school, which could impact their grades and self-esteem.

High school is already a notoriously difficult time, but for trans students trying to figure out their gender identity, it can be even more difficult. What’s more is that high school students have considerably less agency and mobility than adults, which means that when they’re subjected to unsafe conditions, it’s a lot harder for them to do anything about them.

This research comes at an important time, as several U.S. courts are currently dealing with cases related to bathroom access for trans students. This research suggest that even the relatively simple solution of including gender-neutral bathrooms in schools can go a long way towards making these students’ lives a lot easier. That may not address the underlying social problems that make trans students feel unsafe in school bathrooms, but it can help those students get by as we continue to fight for trans inclusion.

People dressed up as superheroes at Comic Con, Los Angeles.

Comic Con, Los Angeles (2016).
Photo credit: Lauren Elisabeth / Shutterstock

We often think of nerds as the picked-on rejects that band together over common interests such as Dungeons & Dragons or Star Trek. The theme of outcasts coming together is a popular one in fiction, and one that you would think would lead to nerd culture being progressive and inclusive.

And while that may be true for some people and groups, nerd culture has some serious issues with inclusivity. From the toxic nature of so many online video games, to the continued over-sexualization of women’s bodies in art, to nerd culture’s blatant courting of fascism during GamerGate and in support of Donald Trump. Nerd culture has a long way to go before it can actually call itself inclusive.

No one knows this better than EmilÆMaxima. EmilÆMaxima is a transwoman who wrote an essay for The Establishment about her experiences as a nerd before and after her transition.

When she came out and announced that she was transitioning, she was met with a lot of questions about whether she would still play video games or like Star Wars, as if those interests were reserved exclusively for men. She notes that, even though there had been girls in their social circles throughout her life, her friends still seemed to think of women as outliers in nerd culture, as if they somehow didn’t belong.

But she also found that women’s experiences of nerd culture were very different than men’s, and often quite hidden. She quickly learned that there were chat rooms and events that men weren’t privy to, where women could be themselves and not have to worry about being harassed or assaulted. She learned, first-hand, that women have a hard time of it in nerd culture, especially online, where anonymity often emboldens men to act like complete monsters.

Finding acceptance for who we are can be difficult, but it’s essential that we do so. And if ever don’t feel accepted by a certain community, it’s time we change the dynamics of that culture.

A trans woman is shown smiling at the camera.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Whether or not the new data released by a government survey team about transgender American citizens matters is up to the beholder. To some, it matters a great deal to know the size of the community of which we’re speaking.

The percentage of the population made up by transgender people is, to one way of thinking, related to how much they and their issues really matter. To many, however, the numbers don’t matter. If there were only one transgender person in all the world, their rights would matter just as much.

But the numbers are in, and there is definitely more than one. In fact, according to data compiled recently out of a 2014 U.S. government survey, there are approximately 1.3 million transgender adults across the United States.

That’s approximately 0.53 percent of the adult population, or one out of every 189 people. It’s also more than the population of San Francisco or Washington D.C. Five US states have populations smaller than that. You could populate Maine or New Hampshire with only transgender people.

The researchers, a team from the University of Michigan led by Dr. Halley Crissman, go on to say that their margin of error probably swings low rather than high, since many trans people might have avoided the survey out of privacy concerns.

They also found that transgender adults were more common in nonwhite populations, and nearly twice as likely to be living below the poverty line and half as likely to have attended college. But in other ways, they fit neatly into the statistics of the general populationthey were just as likely to be married as the cisgender population and had the same unemployment statistics, though they were prone to holding lower-paying jobs.

The findings of Crissman and their team were published on December 20th, 2016 in the online American Journal of Public Health.

A comic drawing of two transgender men.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Kylie Summer Wu is the latest comic artist picked up by the San Francisco alternative newspaper SF Weekly. Her comic Trans Girl Next Door is of the non-sequitor life commentary style, ranging from stoic to hysterical to nonsensical. They are also usually specifically about her life as a transgender woman and a woman of color. Her art style is simple and emotional.

Wu, who lives in West Los Angeles, uses clever imagery to talk about the reality of her body in a work-safe manner, using images of bananas and elephants to good effect with no need of explanation. Her comics are cheerful and amusing, even as they muse on the ways hetero- and cisnormativity impinge upon her life. She’s done strips on the laws and controversy in North Carolina, the awkward conversations with coworkers when they joke about transgender people in other countries, and grandkid-hungry parents.

Her comic, which is also available on her website, will be in each issue alongside the magazine’s two other new comic offerings, Jay Duret’s The Week in Review and Dami Lee’s Hot Comics for Cool People.

Her new syndication is not Wu’s only accolade as an artist. She was listed in 2015’s Trans 100, a list of trans men and women and nonbinary people contributing to society in the United States. She also made an appearance in Elite Daily’s 2015 list of 10 most powerful trans millenials, alongside big names like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock. Both lists come out in November, and she can be expected to be on both again.

This November, which by the way, is Transgender Awareness month, pick up a copy of SF Weekly if you live in the area, or visit her page if you’re not, and get a glimpse into the daily life of the Trans Girl Next Door.

A photo of a man dressed up as a woman.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

As Halloween approaches, I find it necessary to remind people that being trans is not a costume. It’s a real identity that people wear everyday and as such, it shouldn’t be made light of.

I remember last year when Caitlyn Jenner came out. I was completely awestruck by her courage. Here’s someone who for many years represented the epitome of masculinity. Before becoming Caitlyn Jenner, she was Bruce Jenner, the track star who won an Olympic gold medal.

Bruce Jenner was a well-respected athlete in the ’70s. Nobody made fun of him because on the outside, he was your average heteronormative male. But that all changed when he came out as being trans. All the sudden, he was the laughing stock of the country, with Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costumes popping up everywhere.

What people don’t realize is that Bruce was always Caitlyn on the inside, it’s just that he felt he couldn’t express that because of fear; fear of being bullied, fear of being sexually assaulted, fear of being killed.

All of these fears are 100% legitimate. In fact, according to RAINN, “21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of non-TGQN females, and 4% of non-TGQN males.”

To make matters worse, violence against trans people are on the rise. According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2015, 21 trans people were killed in the U.S. This is the highest number of trans murders ever recorded in American history.

Nothing about that is funny. That’s why it’s not okay to treat it like a joke by wearing a trans Halloween costume. If you want to dress up for Halloween, wear a ghost costume. Wear a Mickey Mouse costume. Wear an Iron Man costume. But whatever you do, don’t mock someone’s identity.

Making fun of someone and degrading their self-worth is what leads to suicide. The trans community has been through enough already. The last thing they need is another death that could have been prevented.

A photo of a crime scene. There is blood, broken glass, and a handgun on the floor.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Another name has been added to the list of victims of transgender violence. This time, it’s Hason Amin Alford, who went by the nickname “Jazz.” Alford was a 30-year-old trans woman living in Alabama. She was shot on Sept. 23 at the Kings Inn on Third Avenue in Birmingham.

Alford’s sister Toya Milan (who is also a trans woman) is still grieving over the recent tragedy. Milan told reporters that transgender people are often targeted because people view them as being “monsters.”

“People think transgenders are monsters, when really we just want to be accepted. [Alford] was such a loving person and we didn’t know anybody that would want to hurt her. It’s been a hard pill to swallow,” Milan stated.

As of now, police still don’t have a motive for Alford’s murder. However, they do have a suspect in custody in relation to yet another transgender homicide.

On Monday, October 3, a transgender woman from eastern Birmingham was shot in the face during a home invasion. Police have arrested 23-year-old Denzell Thomas in connection with the crime. Thomas has officially been charged with attempted murder and first-degree robbery.

Daurius Foster, the boyfriend of the second shooting victim, believes that the shooter used a gun that was stolen in the recent robbery of another trans woman. Police cannot confirm this theory at the moment. In fact, Birmingham homicide Sergeant John Tanks told reporters that police are currently investigating the cases separately.

Three victims. All transgender. All from one area. All of these crimes took place within a month’s time frame. The trans community is being targeted and every time we think we’ve made progress, stories like this resurface and we have to remind ourselves that we’re still under attack.

Stay vigilant my friends. Look out for one another. And most importantly, please contact the Birmingham Police Department if you have any information related to this case.