Transgender Day of Remembrance, recognized each year on November 20th, honors the memory of transgender people lost to fatal violence and homicide. According to tracking by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), at least 23 transgender people were killed in acts of violence in 2016. Of those lost in 2016, 95% were transgender people of color, and 85% were trans women. HRC admits that their estimation of 23 lives lost is unreliable and likely lower than the actual number, because of the numerous difficulties involved in tracking these crimes. Reasons include the fact that crimes against transgender people are often underreported and gender identities may be misidentified by the media or law enforcement.
And sadly, so far in 2017 HRC estimates that 25 transgender people have already been lost to acts of violence. Often their deaths can be directly linked back to anti-trans prejudice. And, even in cases where this direct connection cannot be made, it is often clear that the victim’s transgender identity in some way made them more at risk of being a victim of crime. For example, transgender people are much more likely to become homeless than people who are not transgender, and homelessness puts a person at a much higher risk of becoming a victim of a violent crime.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time to pause and honor each person, tell their story, and remember them. But scholar Sarah Lamble notes in Retelling Racialized Violence, Remaking White Innocence: The Politics of Interlocking Oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance:
None of us are innocent. We must envision practices of remembrance that situate our own positions within structures of power that authorize violence in the first place. Our task is to move from sympathy to responsibility, from complicity to reflexivity, from witnessing to action. It is not enough to simply honor the memory of the dead — we must transform the practices of the living.
It’s important to have discussions about violence against transgender people and talk about how we might be complicit in the circumstances of their deaths. How can we change that? What can we do to bring this number down to the only statistic that is acceptable — zero. Greater education about trans people and the issues they face is one important factor. Visibility and representation is another. As a society we can look at what programs and services, or legislation, can be enacted to better serve and protect transgender individuals. Even better, how do we build a more inclusive society where trans people are recognized as human beings worthy of equality and no longer seen as “other?” It’s only when all that happens that we may see anti-trans prejudice begin to decline, and violence against transgender people along with it.
You can read more about Transgender Day of Remembrance, find a local event or candlelight vigil, gather resources on trans issues, and learn what action you can take from the following places:
Wednesday, October 19th is Spirit Day, bringing awareness to the topic of bullying targeted towards LGBTQ youth.
According to GLAAD, “Spirit Day is a means of speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Pledging to “go purple” on Spirit Day is a way for everyone — forward-thinking companies, global leaders, respected celebrities, neighbors, parents, classmates, and friends — to visibly show solidarity with LGBTQ youth and to take part in the largest, most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world.”
There are several ways you can participate in Spirit Day:
- Take the pledge to show you support LGBTQ youth and stand against bullying
- Learn facts about bullying by downloading GLAAD’s available resources kits designed for the public, students, and teachers
- Spread the word, especially on social media using #SpiritDay
- Go Purple, by wearing purple clothing or accessories, and also using social media profile photo frames promoting Spirit Day
- If you have the passion and means to do so, donate to GLAAD to take a stand against discrimination and prejudice.
The pledge, resource kits, shareable facts, social media supplies, and more are all available on GLAAD’s website.
On June 20th at 1pm EST iCarol will host a webinar with Dustin MacDonald of Distress Centre Durham, aimed at providing helplines and other non-profit organizations with helpful information and insight on best practices for serving the LGBTQ community.
Dustin will discuss a range of topics including:
- Suicide ideation and suicide rates among LGBTQ individuals
- Common issues and topics to be aware of
- How to best provide emotional support to LGBTQ individuals
- And much more!
We hope you’ll join us for this special event in celebration of Pride Month. You can learn more about this webinar and register by clicking the button below.
Learn More and Register
On Thursday September 1st at 12pm EST, YouthRex will present a webinar entitled Supporting Trans Youth Wellbeing.
Description from the YouthREX website:
Transgender youth experience significant barriers to wellbeing. Join Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC), and Jay Jonah, Master of Social Work student at York University and YouthREX Research Assistant, to discuss recent research that can support the removal of these barriers.
In this webinar, Dr. Saewyc will provide an overview of key findings from the Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey. Jay Jonah will share an overview of a YouthREX report on Trans Youth and the Right to Access Public Washrooms that includes practical recommendations for youth sector programs and organizations.
The start of a new school year is upon us, and with it comes with feelings of excitement and anticipation, along with some fear and anxiety. As kids prepare to head back to class, they’re exposed to issues that may not have played a prominent role in their lives over the summer. Back-to-school time is a great time for parents to get a refresher course on the best ways to approach topics like body image, mental health, sex, drug and alcohol use, and LGBTQ issues when talking with their kids. And kids and teens can benefit from information about health, self-esteem, self-image, and disorders that may affect the way they see or treat themselves.
Mental Health America just released its 2016 Back to School Toolkit, which includes key messages, articles, social media messages and graphics, infographics, and other materials to help both parents and kids have a happy and healthy school year.
This week a member of the Jenner/Kardashian clan broke the internet, but it wasn’t Kim or Kylie.
On Monday afternoon the world was introduced to Caitlyn Jenner, the person formerly known as Bruce Jenner, when Vanity Fair released a preview of their upcoming cover photo and story, and Caitlyn Jenner opened a Twitter account. That Twitter account promptly broke the record for quickest to reach 1 million followers.
Like many others I watched the television special with Diane Sawyer in April where Bruce (who at the time was still going by “Bruce” and wished to be referred to using male pronouns) sat down for an in-depth discussion about being transgender, a lifetime of gender identity conflict, its affect on previous marriages, how Jenner’s children are reacting to the transition, and more. I actually found that interview to be well done and educational. I thought the special did a great job of asking pertinent yet sensitive questions, educating the audience on what it means to be transgender, the importance of pronouns, the difference between Gender Identity and Sexual Identity, and other topics. If you haven’t seen it, I really recommend looking for ways to view it either online, a repeat showing on TV, or on demand through your cable/satellite provider.
By introducing the world to her true self, Caitlyn has made another important step in her journey and I for one am very happy for her. There’s a few reasons why I think this story is important, and has the potential to be a watershed moment for transgender people.
Visibility – Transgender visibility is an important part of the movement towards better understanding of trans issues, equal and fair treatment, and acceptance in society, and this story has brought immense attention to the topic. Check out the infographic we shared back in November that talks more about visibility and its importance. The more our society is exposed to the stories of transgender people, getting to know them and their lives, the more we can expect better understanding. I hope that with this understanding we’ll see lower incidences of violent crime, bullying, and discrimination towards members of the transgender community.
Advocacy – Caitlyn Jenner is arguably the world’s most famous transgender person at the moment, and she has both financial resources and connections to powerful people. My hope is that she’ll use her influence to advocate for transgender rights and become a great ally fighting for transgender people who don’t have the resources she has. Time will tell if Caitlyn becomes a vocal advocate but I really hope she will be. In the Vanity Fair article she hints that her upcoming series on E! will spend some time focusing on ways to lower the rates of suicide and attempted suicide in the transgender community, among other issues. I’m excited to see how the show handles this topic, and hoping it makes a positive impact.
Another Role Model – Shortly after Caitlyn introduced herself, ESPN announced that she would be the recipient of the Arthur Ashe award at this year’s ESPYS. According to ESPN this award, “is presented each year to individuals whose contributions transcend sports.” A representative added:
The ESPYS are honored to celebrate Bruce becoming Caitlyn. She has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces.
I think that having this kind of high profile coming out, and to have it be met with a large amount of celebration and affirmation, could be hugely beneficial for transgender youth. It wasn’t so long ago that a young person who felt conflicted about their gender identity might have felt completely alone and confused, thinking that no one else on earth is going through what they are going through. I can’t imagine the depths of such isolation, it’s heartbreaking to think about. So we can now add one more role model, with the highest profile yet, to the growing list of names that can give trans youth some hope that they are certainly not alone, and that there is hope for them to live happy and fulfilled lives being who they are.
Family conversations – The stories we’re seeing on TV, the internet, and social media are sparking conversations about what it means to be transgender or gender non-conforming, and this includes discussions between family members and friends. I hope this is serving as an ice breaker and presenting more opportunities for families to have an open dialogue about gender and sexual identity issues. If it’s helping kids talk to their parents, and vice versa, and helping kids feel more comfortable opening up to their parents and other trusted adults, that’s certainly a good thing.
Ultimately Caitlyn Jenner’s story is just one of several this year that brought trans issues further into the mainstream awareness. I’m an optimistic person by nature but I don’t mean to make it sound like this event will bring an end to all the hardships that transgender people face. There is still a LONG way to go and lots of problems to tackle (the high rate of suicide and suicide attempts, unemployment, homelessness, horrific violent crimes). But I think like most other major shifts our society has seen, these high profile stories of celebrities and other well-known people have an impact in bringing these issues into the light, to show that it’s happening to people everywhere, and to make us more aware/sensitive/educated about the issue. Caitlyn Jenner is fortunate to be wealthy, white, and surrounded with support, but that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t struggled or that she’s lived without pain. Surely anyone who watched the Diane Sawyer interview could hear and see the suffering Jenner endured her whole life as she lived with her secret. I hope that by introducing herself to the world, she’ll experience happiness and a sense of freedom, and that it might help others achieve this as well.