November 11 – 17 marks the 2013 Transgender Awareness Week, an event started by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition dedicated to educating about the transgender community and pressing issues facing trans people in Massachusetts.
Fenway Health has created resources that we encourage you to share with your social media networks using the hashtag #TransWk:
- #TransWk Informational Poster (PDF)
- #TransWk Infographic (PDF)
- #TransWk Transgender Youth Infographic (PDF)
- #TransWk Facebook graphic (JPEG)
Transgender is an umbrella term for a diverse group of people whose gender identity or expression differs from societal expectations of how they should look, act, or identify based on the sex they were assigned at birth—such as male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM) trans people, genderqueer individuals, and many others. Gender identity—a person’s innate identification as a man, woman, or something else, which may or may not correspond to the person’s external body or the sex listed on their birth certificate—is separate from sexual orientation. So while it’s possible to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (or straight, asexual, or poly…) and be trans, they are not the same thing.
Although we often talk about the LGBT community as a whole, the transgender community—the “T” in LGBT—faces unique challenges in public understanding and acceptance, discrimination and legal protections, and health disparities stemming from all of the above.
- 62% of transgender people have experienced depression and 41% admit to attempting suicide at some point in their lives;
- 30% report smoking daily, compared to 20.6% of U.S. adults;
- 26% report using drugs or alcohol, currently or in the past, to cope with discrimination;
- The rate of HIV infection in the trans community is 2.6%, compared to only 0.6% among the general population. Among black transgender people, the rate is an astounding 4.4%.
Despite the stark and serious nature of these disparities, recent progress on transgender rights and care should give us hope and spur us to greater action:
- In September of 2011, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) released new standards of care that better reflect the diverse needs of transgender individuals and the need to provide them with more holistic care.
- Last year in Massachusetts, the Transgender Equal Rights Bill took effect, barring discrimination in employment, housing, education, and lending, and enabling hate crime charges in attacks that target someone for being transgender.
- Provisions in the Affordable Care Act banning sex-based discrimination protect transgender Americans from discrimination in health care.
- The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect employees from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orienation, looks likely to pass the US Senate. While its future in the House of Representatives is uncertain, this represents the first time the legislation has been considered in the Senate since 1996, and the fact that it has bipartisan support likely bodes well for the future.
Still, there is much more progress to be made, and Transgender Awareness Week is an important way to draw attention to these important issues. Here’s how you can participate:
- Contact your representative in Congress about ENDA.
Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, ENDA’s future in the US House of Representatives is much less certain. Find out who your Congressperson is here and let them know that you support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
- Attend a Transgender Awareness Week event!
The Massachusetts Transgender Political coalition has list of TAW events on their website and Fenway is hosting a November 12 trans ally event and a November 13 screening of the movie “TRANS”.
- Join the conversation on social media.
Let your social networks know that you support the transgender community. Tag Transgender Awareness Week tweets with #TransWk. In addition to this blog post, you can also share our TAW infographics on Facebook and Tumblr to educate your friends and family on the importance of this week. Also, consider posting our Facebook graphic as your profile picture for the week.
- Keep educating yourself.
Education is an important step to being a better trans ally. Check out our Gender Glossary for a primer on terms and concepts you may encounter in the trans community. Visit the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s website to learn more about the issues currently facing the trans community and how you can help.