I woke up to wonderful news today. Caitlyn Jenner is currently gracing the cover of Vanity Fair magazine in a gorgeous spread. She came out as transgender in a special with Diane Sawyer earlier in April, and has now further shared with us her new identity and appearance. I’m proud and happy for her, but as an ally to transgender and non-binary people, I’m also very aware that we have much more work to do in order to make this world safer for people like Caitlyn.
Caitlyn Jenner. Image credit: Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair
I’m cisgender, so I’m not going to talk about the impact that this will have on the trans* community because I really have no idea what that will be, nor do I want to speak for them. Instead, I’m going to provide a list of trans* and non-binary people to read at the bottom of this post. What I’m going to talk about is the plight of trans* and non-binary (NB) people right now, and the fact that their oppression gets very little coverage in the media.
Transwomen of colour are much more likely than anyone else in the LGBTQIA community to experience violence and murder. Trans*folk in general are much more likely to experience job loss, unemployment, discrimination both medically and societally, and isolation. Many trans* and NB folk are disowned by their families. Many lose friends, partners, and lovers. While Caitlyn Jenner appears to have a great support system, this is not always the case for trans* and NB people.
Trans* and NB teens are driven to suicide because many of them come out in families and societies that don’t accept them. I’ve heard this called “murder by proxy”, and I think it’s an apt description for what seems to happen to these teens. It’s not just teens, though. Many trans* and NB adults also commit suicide. Gay and transgender people experience workplace discrimination and job loss at a higher rate than straight, cisgender people. This economic hardship can be devastating.
Many trans*folk cannot afford surgery, and some don’t want surgery. Caitlyn Jenner is only one of many, many people in this category who has had and wanted to have surgery. This is not the case for all trans* people. Being privileged, she also will likely not experience the sort of economic hardship that many trans* and NB people do. Coming out and transitioning does not always mean that trans* and NB people have easier lives – and it can make their lives harder.
It’s important to remember that as allies, we need to do our best to bring awareness and support to the trans* and non-binary community. While it’s great to see trans*folk and NB folk in the media, this alone will not solve the many dangerous and grave problems that this community may and does face.
Here are some great trans* and NB people that you should be reading as an ally:
If you know of any more, please forward me the links through email or in the comments and I will add them to my list.
Congrats to Caitlyn Jenner on sharing her true identity with us. Now, as allies, let’s band together and work on making it safer for all trans* and NB people to do the same