Trans Awareness Week 2021

by TFN

Transgender Awareness Week takes place this week, Nov. 13-19. It is a week to uplift the trans community and their voices, and it’s a prelude to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.

This year’s Trans Awareness Week comes at a difficult time in Texas that has highlighted the urgent need to raise awareness.

Since 2017, the Texas Legislature has shamelessly stigmatized transgender people by prioritizing discriminatory proposals solely targeted at the trans community, including the infamous so-called “bathroom bill.” Those past efforts thankfully failed. But unfortunately, legislators this year were successful in passing a law that will ban trans youth from participating in school sports.

There are various reasons why those bills have been proposed at the Capitol — including just plain politics — and one of them is a lack of general awareness of what transgender really means.

So for this year’s Trans Awareness Week, we would like to introduce you to a few trans voices in Texas. Hear from them about the challenges they face and what they hope for in the future.

 

 

 

Ash Hall (They/Them)

What are the biggest issues facing the trans community today?
The trans community, especially in places like Texas, is facing a growing culture of discrimination and violence that is fueled by political fearmongering. The violence is racialized, as Black trans women are the most likely to be physically attacked, so ending transphobia alone is not enough to keep us safe — our communities feel the impact of many different kinds of oppression, from racism to xenophobia to ableism and more.

It’s also difficult to find trans-affirming healthcare, especially affordable options. This makes trans individuals less likely to visit doctors for routine check-ups that could reveal serious health problems, delaying access to life-saving care in some cases. And access to affirming healthcare that offers transition-related services is tied to many of our youth’s ability to navigate depression and anxiety stemming from discrimination and dysphoria.

We’re also more likely to be under-employed and under-paid, so in addition to facing state-based violence and the threat of physical violence, we aren’t as likely to have the financial resources we need to afford resources that increase our chances of survival (quality healthcare, food, the option of private transportation, etc.). The nonprofits we create to fight for our liberation are also underfunded- for every $100 cisgender-led LGBTQIA+ nonprofits receive, transgender-led ones only receive four cents. Money doesn’t make the movement, but it sure helps.

 

What kind of world do you envision for the trans community?
I dream of a world where being trans is an accepted, celebrated part of the diversity of the human experience. A world where trans people (especially youth) are treated as the experts of their own minds and bodies, surrounded by supportive parents, friends, colleagues, educators, and healthcare service providers. I envision a world where there are no more trans murders or assaults, where we do not face such high odds of experiencing suicidal ideation caused by discrimination. I want accessible, trans-affirming healthcare, affordable housing, food security, and safe/supportive jobs for the trans community. I want our trans youth to never face a decision between being themselves or losing the chance to participate in anything or show up in any space with their peers. And I want us to receive the thanks we are owed for all the ways we set our cisgender siblings free from the grip of harmful gender roles on a daily basis.

 

How can allies best support/uplift your work?
Generally speaking, support trans-led nonprofits like the Transgender Education Network of Texas! Check on the trans people in your life and see how they’re doing and what support you might be able to offer. Push back against transphobic rhetoric from elected officials, school officials, and anyone else so we can keep that rhetoric from escalating into violence. Oppose anyone who seeks power at the expense of our community.

And as for me personally, have your employer/campaign/group hire me if you’re interested in learning more about gender identity, transgender identities and issues, the Texas legislature, progressive messaging and advocacy, and more! Or tip me at Venmo (Ash-Hall-74). Retweets are always helpful too, especially when I’ve got a call to action for folks to help protect or enrich our community!

 

 

 

Jules Mandel (They/Them)

What are the biggest issues facing the trans community today?
The biggest issue facing the trans community today is violence in its many forms. State-sanctioned violence, interpersonal violence, cultural violence. From loss of autonomy to the erasure of identity to loss of life itself, trans people are subjected to multiple violence.

 

What kind of world do you envision for the trans community?
I envision a world where trans as a social identity and category is no longer necessary because the gender binary has been so thoroughly broken that people are free to live and present their gender however feels true for them without consequence.

 

How can allies best support/uplift your work?
Remember that trans people live intersectional lives, just like everyone else. While being trans is an important and beautiful part of who I am, my work spans issue areas and isn’t solely focused on trans advocacy.

 

 

 

Leo Tyler Castillo-Anguiano (He/They)

What are the biggest issues facing the trans community today?
(cw: violence) Unfortunately, this year alone there have been over 33 states across the country that have introduced over 117 bills targeting the trans community. This is our biggest issue today. We are constantly being targeted and at least 45 transgender or non-binary people have been killed due to violence. We can only estimate 45 because too often these violent attacks go unreported. These victims had lives just like anyone else, they worked, had a family, a job, or went to school. They didn’t deserve violence.

 

What kind of world do you envision for the trans community?
We are an incredibly diverse community where we are constantly uplifting one another. I envision a world where we trans folks can be free to express who we are without feeling as if we will be attacked. I envision trans kids being able to play the sports they want to play regardless of gender. I envision the trans community having affordable accessible healthcare for those who wish to start Hormone replacement therapy. I don’t think there’s anything I want more in the world than for my community to feel safe no matter where we are.

 

How can allies best support/uplift your work?
Just this year I helped create Trans Masc Folks Y Mas, a support group for ALL transgender, non-binary, androgynous, gender fluid, two-spirited individuals looking to explore and embrace their gender expression. We seek to uplift our most marginalized voices, to learn from them, and to grow not only within ourselves but simultaneously with our community members, neighbors, and allies. I ask for allies to continue to promote TMFYM on their platforms, to their friends, so that we can reach help support those in need! You can find the group and other resources at https://linktr.ee/Leotylercastillo

 

 

 

Aamori S. Olujimi (She/Hers)

What are the biggest issues facing the trans community today?
Upliftment of trans BIPOC trans and gender diverse people, through employment and accessible and affordable quality housing, is first a priority. Secondly, financial literacy, 401K access, IRAs and other accounts to attain assets, along with detailed training about investing in the stock market and cryptocurrency. Thirdly, more awareness of and access to gender-affirming care beyond just hormone therapy, such as accessible and robust insurance plans to cover mental health services, cover preservation of eggs or sperm, and covering gender confirmation related surgeries for the face and any parts of the body beneath the face.

 

What kind of world do you envision for the trans community?
A world where equity and equality, respect and upliftment are truly universal for all people including trans and gender diverse people! Stigmatization of the trans community is still very real.

 

How can allies best support/uplift your work?
Use their access to help collaborate with the trans community, especially the BIPOC parts of our communities, to build safer neighborhoods, safer respectful employment with robust health insurance plans that cover mental health access, and gender confirmational surgeries for the face, and any area of the body below the face. Collaboration means to befriend, talk with and work with people from communities who the allies are wanting to help, and not deciding the needs of those communities for those people.

 

 

 

Sofia Sepulveda (She/Hers)

What are the biggest issues facing the trans community today?
The biggest issues that we face is access to healthcare, housing, jobs and education, as well as the constant attack not just from the right but within our party when it comes to the right of a trans person to compete in sports, as well as violence promoted by even our own community.

 

What kind of world do you envision for the trans community?
A world where we no longer have to hide who we are and be able to live freely without the fear of violence. We don’t want to be celebrated, we want to be able to live without fear.

 

How can allies best support/uplift your work?
By showing up with us, not just for us. It is super easy to share a hashtag or change your profile picture to a pro-trans flag, show up when we rally, show up when we protest the police for not going after our murderers, show up when the state wants to ban us from using the bathroom or deny us access to sport or care. And hire us. Many of us are in need of work in order to thrive, for we are tired of surviving. Help us fight for ban the box, or even to denounce Walgreens or CVS for continuously asking for gender information when trying to access the vaccine.

 

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