According to statistics published by the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal (TVTP) in 2014, 10 % of acts of violence against homo- or transsexual people have been committed against transgender youth, with an assumingly high number of unreported cases. Acts of violence reported to the TVTP include
An 8-year-old boy beaten to death by his father
A 14-year-old strangled to death and stuffed under a bed
Two 16-year-olds shot to death
Three 18-year-olds stabbed to death, dismembered or shot
Two 18-year-olds murdered with no details being reported
An 18-year-old suffered two violent attacks by a mob and survived
The latest case of transphobic violence who also gained some attention of the media was that of 22 year old Bri Golec – a trans woman from Ohio who was reportedly stabbed to death by her father on Friday 13, 2015.
Although it is not even March, Golec’s death already marks the sixth death caused by transphobic violence – and that is only in Ohio.
A 2014 study conducted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the UCLA School of Law reveals that the prevalence of suicide attempts among respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey is 41%, which vastly exceeds the 4,6 % of the overall U.S. population who report a lifetime suicide attempt, and is also higher than the 10 to 12 % of gay, lesbian and bisexual adults who report ever attempting suicide. The study points out that transsexuals are confronted with discrimination on a daily basis, both the micro-level – in everyday interactions – as well as institutionalised on the macro-level:
- 57 % of the respondents experience rejection by family members
- 50 to 54 % are harassed or bullied at school
- 50 to 59 % are discriminated against at work
- 60 % are denied access to healthcare as doctors or health care providers refuse to treat them
- They are more likely to experience sexual violence (At work: 64 to 65 %; at school: 63 to 78 %; by law enforcement officers: 60 to 70 %)
57 to 61% are disrespected or harassed by law enforcement officers
- 69 % experience homelessness
How can those outstandingly high numbers of discrimination, victimization, and violence towards transsexuals on all societal levels be explained? The answer to this question is complex and would be beyond the scope of this article. One among many possible reasons could be the flawed and stereotypical depiction, sensationalization and the devaluation of transsexuality in the media, which clearly reveals a general lack of understanding of what transsexuality really is.
A short intro to transsexuality
- The word “trans” in transgender is Latin, meaning “across”
Transsexuals experience a disparity between their individual gender identity and the gender assigned to them by society based on their biological sex
A person who is biologically female, but identifies as male and chooses to transition to male is called a trans man.
A person who is assigned the label “male” by society based on its biological features and who identifies as a women and chooses to transition to female is a trans woman.
Transgenders are to be addressed with the pronoun of the gender they identify as (e.g. a trans man is to be addressed with the pronoun “he”)
The “trans” specification is not necessary
Sexual orientation and gender orientation are often confused when it comes to transsexuality:
Gender orientation is who you identify as
Sexual orientation is who you are attracted to
A transsexual man can be attracted to females, males, both or feel no sexual attraction at all.
- The same goes for transsexual women.
GENDER ORIENTATION DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY DEFINE SEXUAL ORIENTATION!
- Gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression are non-fixed, they are instead fluid categories which have to be thought of independently from each other when it comes to transsexuality.
- Gender identity describes how you identify your gender and how you see and understand yourself
Sexual orientation refers to who you feel attracted to
- Gender expression is the way you express yourself outwardly. Often gender expression and cross dressing are confused when it comes to transsexuality. Transsexuality and cross dressing are not the same: cross dressing alludes to gender performance as a means of expressing yourself (e.g. through drag) which does not necessarily have to affect gender identification or orientation.
- Transition to male or female does not only or necessarily mean undergoing plastic surgery to get a sex change. It includes many different steps – for example changing gender pronouns and opening up to friends and family are factors contributing to transition.
Learn more about transsexuality:
13 Myths and Misconceptions About Trans Women Part One: http://skepchick.org/2012/01/13-myths-and-misconceptions-about-trans-women-part-one/
Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/AFSP-Williams-Suicide-Report-Final.pdf
Transgender Law Center: http://transgenderlawcenter.org/