Happy Trans Awareness Day?

Monday 31 March was Trans Awareness Day. It celebrates the existence, resilience and success of the trans and gender non-conforming community and aims to raise awareness of trans rights, or more often their absence, around the world.  We also all need to take a breath and remember the hardships that are facing this community.

This has never been more important.  While it went largely unreported, more trans people were killed in 2020 than any year since records began.  For many, it feels like we are going back in time, set against a background of increasing anti-trans and anti-nonbinary rhetoric. In the UK alone, transphobic hate crimes have quadrupled since 2015one in four trans people have been threatened with or experienced transphobic violenceone in three employers refuse to employ a trans person, and following a recent court case, trans children now have to go to court if they want medication to delay the onset of puberty so they have more time to decide about whether or not they wish to surgically transition.  

Trans youths

Most trans people also still feel the need to conceal their gender identity at work, despite legal safeguards, some because they feel it would make them unsafe and others, even in progressive institutions, because they believe it would invite harassment and social isolation.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, trans people on average experience much worse mental health than the general population.  Around half of trans people have attempted to end their own lives, driven beyond endurance by a culture of hostility and isolation.

Healthcare is also failing trans people.  Quite apart from the average 26-year wait for a first appointment at London’s NHS gender clinic, standard health checks are often missed for trans people, such as screening for cervical cancer and asking routine health questions about the possibility of pregnancy before surgery in trans men.

What can you do to help?

Pink News has the following suggestions for anyone wanting to help support their trans friends and peers:

‘You can find a list of trans organisations and charities who need your support here.

Another thing cis-gendered people can do is commit to being a better ally to trans and non-binary people. We have an article here where eight trans and non-binary people share their tips on how to improve your allyship in 2021.

For example, Axelle (they/them), queer activist and founder of the Black Trans Foundation says: “Watch trans documentaries and read trans stories. I would recommend these free ones on YouTube: Meet Young Non-Binary Australians Who Don’t Identify as Male or FemaleGender Diversity and Identity in QueertopiaI Am They: A Non-binary Transgender Love Story, Laverne Cox Presents the T Word.”’

Affected by anything in this article?

If you have been affected by any of the content in this article, whether or not you are trans, remember you can get emotional support and find someone to listen at the Student Wellbeing Service, University Chaplaincy, and the Samaritans – who are there to listen to anyone who needs to talk and not just those feeling desperate.

~ by Chenda Cox and David E Bennett

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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