Why we’re showing our support for transgender people this Transgender Day of Remembrance

CN: Please note, this piece includes discussion of transphobia, anti-transgender violence and suicide.

The F-word team want to take today, Transgender Day of Remembrance, to say that we stand with and support transgender and gender-diverse people in their fight for fair and equal treatment, and that we always will.

We’ve shared our support as a collective before, in our position statement on transphobia and cissexism, but it’s important to us that we make it clear that we’ll continue to do the work necessary to ensure our site is a safe space for people of every gender.

From violence to harassment and prejudice: what transgender people face every day

The recent figures released by Transrespect Versus Transphobia in their yearly Transgender Day of Remembrance update are horrifying to read, showing that there are no signs of transphobia diminishing globally:

  • 350 trans and gender-diverse people were murdered, 6% more than was reported in the 2019 update
  • 98% of those murdered globally were trans women or trans feminine people, showing the intersection of transphobia and transmisogyny
  • 62% of murdered trans people whose occupation is known were sex workers
  • People of colour make up 79% of the 28 trans people murdered in the USA
  • Of 11 trans people murdered in Europe, half were migrants
  • The average age of those murdered is 31 years old, but the youngest person killed was only 15 years old

Worse still, while this indicates an upward trend in transgender violence year-on-year, it’s impossible to know that for certain. These figures are compiled by TVT from media reports on the murders, which doesn’t account for murders that go unreported, misreported, or people who are misgendered by the authorities, the media or their families. These deaths are, perhaps, only the tip of the iceberg.

The statistics also don’t take into account the number of trans people we lose to suicide every year. Key stats shared by Stonewall showed 27% of young trans people had attempted to suicide, while 9 in 10 had considered it. Nearly three-quarters have self-harmed at some point.

Both gender reassignment and community support can be key to improved mental health and wellbeing for many transgender people, but both are hard to come by

The truly heart-breaking thing about these statistics is that much of this negative mental health impact, if not all of it, can be traced back to the way trans people are treated. Tellingly, both gender reassignment and community support can be key to many transgender people having better mental health – and both are hard to come by.

Poet Jay Hulme wrote a Twitter thread this week sharing some insights on what it’s like to be trans in the UK. He shared details of the homelessness, poverty, unemployment and poor access to healthcare that many transgender people face in the UK. In fact, as Jay points out, at least one person has been granted asylum in another country  due to the hostile environment for trans people in the UK.

In her response to the Gender Recognition Act consultation, published in September, Liz Truss said: “Britain leads the world as a country where everybody is able to lead their life freely and treated with respect” and that transgender people are “able to participate fully in modern life.” But that flies in the face of the lived experience of trans and gender-diverse people in this country.

Reported hate crimes against transgender people have risen by 16% in the last year, but with up to 4 in 5 LGBTQIA people who experience a hate crime not reporting the incident to the police, that figure could be much higher

Even the government’s own hate crime statistics dispute her claim, with reported hate crimes against transgender people having risen by 16% in the last year. And that’s without taking into account a 2017 study by Stonewall which found that 4 in 5 LGBTQIA+ people who experienced a hate crime didn’t report it to the police.

Transphobic and transmisogynistic content seems to be increasing across both traditional media and social media, too, with well-known authors and celebrities parroting transphobic rhetoric to their followers on social media.

Steps to being a better ally

Part of why I wanted to be the person to write this blog for the site was because I’ve been thinking about how I, as a cisgender woman, can be a better ally, and encourage other people to do the same. It would be great to hear other people’s ideas in the comments. But for me it comes down to leveraging the privilege I have to advocate for trans people, to make my support for trans people clear and to show the transgender people I know that I will always be willing to listen and try and provide a safe space for them.

Some of the actions I’m committing to in order to do that include:

  • Sharing reliable information and correcting misconceptions when I see people talking about trans rights. This includes actively advocating for better transgender inclusion with people in my everyday life, including at work and in my family and social circles.
  • Cutting transphobic people out of my life. This includes everything from stopping speaking to anti-trans relatives to blocking transphobic people from my personal social media accounts to avoid any transphobic content ending up in my timeline.
  • Actively boycotting organisations and people who don’t support trans rights – including not holding memberships to any political parties that won’t support transgender people – and letting them know why.
  • Listening more than I talk and acknowledging that transgender people are experts in their own lives and the prejudice they face, and that their lived experience is enough evidence on its own.
  • Supporting trans artists, creators and business people and the inclusive businesses that support them.

There is often a call, among people advocating for change, for people to be on ‘the right side of history’. When history is, as the quote goes, written by the victors, this isn’t enough for me. When it comes to supporting those of us facing oppression and prejudice, we should want to be on the right side of humanity, with compassion, understanding and equity for all being our guiding principles. Trans rights are human rights, and I’ll fight for change beside trans people until that’s recognised around the world.

The feature image shows three votive candles on top of a pile of small trans flags and pamphlets titled “Not One More”. Photograph by Joshua Barash and used under a creative commons license.