News, Special Projects

The current state of anti-transgender sentiments in the U.S.

As of early 2023, over 120 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced nationwide, with many primarily targeting transgender youth. In 2022, a record-breaking 278 anti-LGBT bills were introduced with twenty becoming law and 17 of which targeting transgender student-athletes.

“It seems like that all of these anti-LGBT bills and bigotry for the trans community is new and rising, but this has been the reality for years,” said Amber Flannery Field, a transgender woman from New York City in an interview last week.

Field is a tour director who has worked with queer teenagers in the past. She also worked with the LGBTQ+ community in New York City by creating queer youth programs, protesting for queer rights and doing volunteer work.

“The central problems in our community have been the same for decades now. Before there were ‘Don’t say gay’ bills, in my time in high school, nobody said gay,” Field said.

In 2022, the Human Rights Campaign found at least 38 transgender people had been fatally shot or killed by violent means. The HRC’s annual report on violence against transgender individuals also stated that not all of their stories are told because of how unreported these events are.

Transgender people are also at higher risk of homelessness. In 2020, the National Alliance to End Homelessness found that trans homelessness had increased by 88% since 2016, and trans youth are 63% likely to be homeless.

They also experience higher rates of chronic health conditions and disabilities due to a lack of access to health care. The Center for American Progress found that, in 2019, transgender adults were 10% less likely than cisgender adults to have routine checkups and flu shots.

During the pandemic, one in two transgender adults reported to the HRC that their access to gender-affirming healthcare was reduced significantly, which was a major detriment to their mental health.

When asked what solutions to these issues for trans people would be, Field said, “When we have a secure system of housing, when we have strong unions, we have strong labor protections, access to medical care, it benefits everyone.”

As for what Field wants cisgender people to understand, it’s that “Queer people are not a monolith. You get thirty trans people in a room, and you get sixty different perspectives of what queerness, what sexuality and what gender is.”

“We say all the time to listen to trans people, but we’re never going to agree on one issue,” said Field.

There are other pressing issues that transgender women face, such as “passing.” “Passing,” in the transgender community, refers to how much an individual looks like their gender. Being able to pass has been a historically important function for the transgender community, especially for personal safety.

“I mostly wish passing wasn’t such a matter of safety.” Amelia Lipsey, a transgender woman from Las Vegas said.

Despite passing being extremely important for transgender individuals, this causes huge pressure to fit into cisgender beauty standards, especially unrealistic ones.

In a 2019 study by the University of Indianapolis, findings showed that 50% of participants stated that societal beauty standards influenced their personal perceptions of beauty and that they also felt additional pressure to conform.

“On a similar note, never out people who haven’t said they’re okay with it, whether they’re still in the closet or living stealth. You don’t know if they’re okay with others knowing they’re trans,” Lipsey said.

What Field recommends for schools and higher education institutions, in general, is to have all students, especially cisgender students get together, identify the problems on campus, and make strong and uncompromising demands for their humanity.

“It is up to the students to decide— there are multiple ways for the world to change and sometimes change just happens just by asking,” Field said. “I can’t tell you how they should protest, or boycott or make mean faces at the dean because the students who are participating in this institution are the ones who know the stakes, how to bring about change and the weaknesses of those in power.”

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