This is another belated attempt to shed light on a marginalized population: trans women. A trans woman is a person assigned a male identity at birth whose sense of self is female. Unfortunately trans women and men are at a very high risk of committing suicide and suffering violent attacks. (The most famous case in American media is probably Brandon Teena, whose story was told in the movie Boys Don’t Cry.)
A survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found:
A staggering 41 percent of transgender people in the United States have attempted to commit suicide, according to a new survey. About 19 percent of transgender people report being refused medical care because of their gender-nonconforming status, and a shocking 2 percent have been violently assaulted in a doctor’s office.
Those numbers are very discouraging, but today a report recommends studying gay and transgender people in order to understand their different health needs. Scientists have only recently started studying how certain diseases affect men and women and whites and blacks differently, and there’s even less research on the health of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people:
Changing that starts with a seemingly simple step: Researchers should start asking people about their sexual orientation and gender identity, just as they routinely ask about race and ethnicity, in all government-funded health studies, the panel concluded.
That’s a big step forward in equality. It comes too late for trans women who were murdered for who they were, including:
- Amanda Milan, who was killed in 2001 at 25
- Gwen Araujo,who was killed at in 2002 at 17
- Nireah Johnson, who was killed in 2003 at 17
That’s just a small list of the murders that make the news. Often when trans people are victims of violence and murder, police and media erase their chosen identities and discriminate against them even in death. Here are a couple of well-written pieces on how not to act like that: Transmisogyny is misogyny against all women and What transmisogyny looks like. The former includes bits like “If you hate, dislike, or mistrust trans women, you’re misogynistic. Trans women are included in the big ol’ group known as women. Want proof? Well look at their name, silly. We call ‘em trans women, not trans chia pets, not trans beach towels, not trans schmeggeggies.” The rest is just as poignant and funny. On a more positive note, look here to see some trans woman success stories.