1. Discrimination of transgender people is far, wide and very alarming.
We’ve all seen the anti-transgender remarks being made in response to Caitlyn Jenner’s big reveal, including the petition to remove her gold medal.
As if being transgender wasn’t hard enough emotionally and mentally, our society doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality and The Task Force found that:
- 63 percent of respondents experienced a serious act of discrimination, including homelessness, denial of medical services, loss of relationships, and so on.
- They experience unemployment at twice the rate of the general population.
- And of those who DO have jobs, 90 percent of them report on-the-job harassment, mistreatment and discrimination.
- It should also come as no surprise that transgender people are four times more likely to live in poverty.
- And that a staggering 41 percent of transgender respondents said they had attempted suicide compared to 1.6 percent of the general population.
And while the U.S. Air Force announced that it lifted the ban on barring transgender individuals from serving, all other U.S. military branches continue to ban transgender people from serving.
Oh, and on top of all of this, only 18 states (yes, that’s including California) prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. That leaves a whopping 32 states that DO NOT protect transgender people from being who they are.
2. Treat transgender individuals just like you would any other person – with respect!
Respect the person by using the terms they want used to describe their experiences, even if they don’t give you a label.
When Caitlyn, formerly known as Bruce, announced that she was transgender via the infamous 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer, at the time she requested to be addressed as Bruce and asked for male pronouns to be used. Now, she wants to be known as Caitlyn Jenner, using female pronouns. And while not everyone has respected that, they should.
You should always address a transgender person with the correct name and pronoun. If you’re not sure what that is, you can listen for how close friends or family members are referring to them. And if that is not an option, then it is appropriate to ask how they wish to be addressed (as long as you’re respectful).
Here are some more helpful tips on how to be respectful of transgender people.
3. It’s time to start a conversation.
With Caitlyn finally sharing her gender identity, expression and story with the world (with the very public support of her family), it’s the perfect time to raise awareness about the transgender community and educate others.
Whether it’s challenging anti-transgender remarks, making small changes in the workplace (e.g. gender neutral restrooms) or simply informing someone who is unintentionally being offensive, the time is now. For example, many people don’t know or understand that sexual orientation and gender identity are not one in the same. In fact, there is a huge misconception that all transgender people are gay.
All it takes is one person to pass on the correct information. All it takes is one person to stand up for someone being bullied. Because the more people who are informed about the transgender community who are willing to talk about these very relevant issues and show their support, the closer transgender people get to equality.
Being able to be your true, authentic self is a human right that everyone deserves. Learn how you can do your part.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or an endorsement by Planned Parenthood. Check with your health care provider to discuss what is best for you.