PHOTOSET 1 http://la.indymedia.org/news/2015/12/292142.php
PHOTOSET 2 http://la.indymedia.org/news/2015/12/292162.php
An event was held on November 20th at the West Hollywood Library to commemorate those transsexual persons who have been murdered in the last year throughout the globe. The Transgender Day of Remembrance which was started in 1998 has become a call to action in defense of trans people who have suffered immeasurably over the years from negative societal judgement and the violence that will often accompany such views. The event was very well attended with a reception, guest speakers, a performance by the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, a reading of the names of those deceased and a march into the West Hollywood night along Santa Monica Blvd.
The march was very spirited as perhaps 500 - 1000 people or so found strength in the communion of their challenges.. They cheered , chanted and marched their way through the bar area of West Hollywood's Santa Monica Blvd confident that this was church and they were there to testify. There were transmen, transwomen, transneutral and gender fluid protesters whose status ranged from financialy succesful to the homeless.
The reading of the names was a particularly emotional moment as person after person ascended the stage to read the memorials of those who had been murdered in the U.S. during 2015. The words were read by trans and cisgendered people alike. Many of the assailants of the slain women are still at large.The women had been killed by groups of young men as well as individual men who may have had intimate contact with them or men looking for prostitution. The murders are often gruesome. Facial and genital mutilation have been regularly reported in the crime descriptions.
There are probably many bad reasons for the violence.
The Day of Remembrance is very specifically for those who have had their lives taken away, What it does not really reveal is just how brutal it can be for a transperson of either sex. The challenges that are presented to those who are " Gender Dysphoric " are formidable to say the least.
At this point in the world Transphobia is deeply present in areas such as housing, employment, family relationships, public facilities and the health care system amongst others. This necessarily leads to various types of social and physical alienation that certainly must be detrimental to the pursuit of a normal life. There have even been instances where the gay and lesbian community exhibited unbending nonacceptance of trans norms. Fortunately Janet Raymond and her treatise on the invasive qualities of transwomen is quickly fading in relevance as third wave feminism washes away the old misperceptions.
Some of the percentages tell an even grimmer story.
Forty one percent of trans individuals have attempted suicide. Transgender men have a rate of 44 percent while transwomen are at a 42 percent suicide attempt rate.
Trans people are 4 times more likely in the U.S to make less than 10,000 dollars per year. The world Health Organization has issued data from a study of 15 countries that transwomen are 49 times more likely to contract HIV than the general population. The reasons for this are somewhat complex but also very simple; because of the rejection and revulsion that many facets of society show towards transfolks, they are often forced to engage in survival sex work to simply feed and house themselves. In transwomen this can lead to higher rates of HIV than the the more mainstream gay, bi and lesbian populations who are gainfully employed at much higher rates. Rates of HIV reporting are lower for trans women for several unique reasons; one being that if a person has HIV and transmits it to another knowingly, most states consider this to be a felony so those engaged in prostitution will have issues in that context, while a second reason is the incorrect belief that hormones and HIV drugs conflict.
The U.S. Justice Department cites statistics that indicate that one out of every two transsexual persons has been sexually assaulted with percentages perhaps as high as 66 %.The effects of rape and similar crimes can leave the victim with severe self worth issues while also living in fear of re-violation. http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/forge/sexual_numbers.html
The bathroom issue is gaining in momentum. Several states have tried to get laws on the books that would criminalize going into a public bathroom that does not correspond to their birth gender. On the flip side OSHA has made it's bathrooms somewhat gender neutral, while the Whitehouse has installed gender neutral lavatories.
Here is an app where one can find bathrooms that the transgendered population can access without a hassle. Oftentimes antitrans violence occurs in restrooms so this can help to reduce that danger. This an opinion but people have a right to pee. http://www.refugerestrooms.org/about
Transfolks have also often reported a lack of understanding and compassion or even simple professionalism from a significant percentage of the health care professional population. Factors such as a lack of exposure to transpeople, a lack of awareness of the medical needs of transitioning male and female transgenders, and even religious hangups have been cited as causes for shaving down the hippocratic oath for those who are gender nonconforming.
This all spells out a very bleak and challenging landscape for those that the psychiatric community calls Gender Dysphoric.
According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey….
Sixty-three percent (63%) of their 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
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
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey http://www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf
Families have disowned their children and cast them without resources out into the world because of their child's gender nonconformity.The Huffington Post has a really interesting article on this. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joanne-herman/when-parents-reject-their_b_872191.html
There are other subtle challenges that T-people have to face….
Due to the atmosphere of nonacceptance many American tranwomen transition at a later date, when most of their male features have been set. This differs from societies like those of Thailand where because of certain traditions, an acceptance exists for those who live " between the worlds". In effect their transitioning process starts much earlier. This results in a far more feminine bone structure and physicality. Like most humans those who are better looking get the best opportunities and the same seems to go for transitioning. The belief is that those who pass well will fare better. This is being taken up by the medical profession so the trend in North America as of late is for earlier intervention. However this has yielded a new dilemma due to the advent of drugs that can postpone puberty. Doctors are reporting that families are opting to delay the onset of puberty so a sound decision can be made as to the childs' commitment level to gender transitioning and thus determining whether or not it is a " phase " .
There are no long term studies on this as of yet.
The cost of plastic surgery has led to some horrible practices such as "pumping ". This is where industrial grade silicon ( or worse ) is injected into the body by nonmedical syringe wielding amateurs into the bodies of those who feel they need curves to pass as female. If the injections are successful one can work toward leading a normal life, with a place to live , a career and /or a spouse along with a lack of negative attention. However these injections often migrate to other parts of the body causing cardiovascular problems and conditions such as brain and / or pulmonary embolisms.
There have been reports of negative reactions from hormones purchased on the black market internet where a prescription isn't required and is thus cheaper. Without a physician monitoring the dosage, complications such as liver damage and pulmonary embolisms have been reported.
A lifetime of poverty , exclusion and violence most certainly explains the suicide attempt rate.
There have been 21 deaths of transpeople in the U.S. in 2015. Most of them were black and most were transwomen.
The TMM IDAHOT 2015 report outlines an alarming total of 1,731 cases of reported killings of transgender and gender-diverse people around the globe from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2014. http://www.transrespect-transphobia.org/en_US/tvt-project/tmm-results/idahot-2015.htm
One of the problems with the reporting of trans murders is that law officials often record the gender on a persons ID or birth certificate or death certificate …not the victims gender choice. Prejudice is in play as reports often ignore the visual indications of the deceased's idenity. Reports of trans murders come in from activists around the world. but once again….. cultural bias can obfuscate the statistics. A family may not want the deceased to be identified as transgendered …cultural cues may lead to the murder not being reported accurately or sadly sometimes……..not at all. There are reportedly 700,000 transgendered people in the U.S. today.
21 murders may be just the tip of the sharks fin.
The obvious answer is acceptance……simple acceptance in housing, employment, education, family life and civic life.
Perhaps America can lead the way.
Robert Stuart Lowden
Los Angeles 2015