Before diving into our topic, first of all, let me ask you: Do you know the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation? Ask yourself what would it mean to be a lesbian-transexual woman? Or a bisexual-transgender man? Confusing? It can be. But, it can also be explained very easily. Time to think outside the box.
Gender Identity and the ‘Transgender’ term
According to the Oxford dictionary, gender identity is described as a person’s perception of having a particular gender, which may or may not correspond with their birth sex. Meanwhile, sexual orientation is described as a person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender to which they are attracted; the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual or any other.
Many people have mistaken them for the same thing, but the two terms describe two totally different things. To be more specific, gender identity is one’s personal and internal feelings about being a woman or a man or genderqueers. For transgender persons, sex assigned to them by birth and their gender identity does not match. Transgender is the umbrella term used to identify people whose gender identity differs from the sexual organ they were born with. Trying to change someone’s gender identity is impossible. Just as impossible as it is to change one’s sexual orientation.
A person who has undergone treatment in order to acquire the physical characteristics of the opposite sex is called transsexual. The list of terms and labels it’s necessary to be used to help people with these experiences get identified, otherwise, everybody must have the crucial right to overlive their gender identity in their own way and however, they feel comfortable more. Non-binary gender describes any gender identity which does not fit within the binary of male and female.
Transgender women are often incorrectly identified as “transvestites.” A transvestite, however, is an individual who wears clothing primarily associated with the gender with whom he or she does not identify. A man may prefer to dress as a woman, but this does not make him transgender if he does not identify as a woman.
How does the transgender community get treated?
Transgender people are far more likely to live in poverty than cis people due to family rejection, housing discrimination, and employment discrimination. People whose gender identity matches the one they, were assigned at birth are called cis.
Transgender persons face a lot of discrimination and violence during their lives. Policymakers, service providers, the media and society at large too often have discharged or discounted the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Another thing which has hindered the work to make substantive policy changes to address these needs, is the lack of hard data.
In 2008, The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force formed a ground-breaking research partnership to address this problem, launching the first comprehensive national transgender discrimination study. The data collected brings to spotlight the pervasiveness and overwhelming collective weight of discrimination that transgender and gender non-conforming people endure during their lives. They face discrimination in all major areas of life such as housing, employment, health and health care, education, public accommodation, family life, criminal justice and government identity documents.
According to transequality.org report, data says that 63% of the conducted participants experienced serious acts of discrimination—events that would have a major impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally. Participants reported that they had faced:
- Loss of job due to bias
- Eviction due to bias
- School bullying/harassment so bad the respondent had to drop out
- Teacher bullying
- Physical assault due to bias
- Sexual assault due to bias
- Homelessness because of gender identity/expression
- Loss of relationship with partner or children due to gender identity/expression
- Denial of medical service due to bias
- Incarceration due to gender identity/expression
This community, unfortunately, is one of the worlds’ most hated, threaten, discriminated, and killed. They are attacked and killed in brutal ways involving multiple knife burials, stoning, firing up to death, shooting with shoots, electric wire firing, burning, etc.
Transgender rights movement
Every year on November 20, activists around the world mark the Transgender Memorial Day (TOD) to remember and honor trans people who lost their lives, thus being killed as a result of high transphobia. It is marked to raise awareness and attention in relation to the ongoing violence the transgender community is exposed.
Starting in 1999, in order to recall the murder of transgender Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts, this day got marked by the transgender woman called Gwendolyn Ann Smith. Since then, this date gained its importance, and later slowly evolved as a web-based project, initiated by Smith, as an active international day. In 2010, TOD was marked in 185 cities in more than 20 countries.
Memorial Day includes reading of the names of transgender people killed that year, and may also include organized activities such as candle-lighting, art shows, food distribution, movie shows and march.
Transgender community needs to be supported and empowered. Advocating for equality for all is something which needs to be a priority for all of us. Transgender people are victims of this society which was not projected to include them, but whoever gets excluded and treated unequally, is a downgrade for the society as a whole. Transgenders are not victims, they are survivors.
Laverne Cox is an American actress and LGBT advocate. She is the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the acting category, and the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award.
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