By Madi Tortora
It was announced in March that a multi-service center dedicated specifically to transgender people would be opened in the Bronx, New York in April. The center is going to help transgender people receive surgeries, hormone treatments, mental health counseling, and assistance with legal name changes, job searches, and other services.
The Bronx Trans Collective, as it will be called, will be the city’s first major multi-service center specifically dedicated to transgender people or people who are transitioning.
Recently, the challenges and concerns of transgendered people have been gaining national attention. Usually, transgender people are lumped in with the LGBT—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender—community, but recently their advocates have reached out and drawn attention to the fact that transgender people’s needs tend to be different. They are dealing more with their gender identity, not specifically focusing on their sexual orientation like many people in the LGBT community.
“As we continue to progress in the fight for equal rights, it has become apparent that the ‘T’ in LGBT is being neglected as gay men and women continue to take precedence,” said Tyler Curry, a freelance columnist, in his column for the Huffington Post.“By being part of the same-sex acronym, trans individuals are rarely recognized as a unique group that requires its own specific agenda to obtain equality. Instead, they are often considered an obscure and misunderstood subgroup of the gay community.”
Essentially, the problems of transgender people are lumped in with the problems of the gay community, when their experiences differ greatly.
According to the National LGBTQ Task Force, transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed and four times more likely to live in poverty compared with the general population.
“And these disparities are much greater for transgender black and Latina women,” said Kylar W. Broadus, director of the group’s Transgender Civil Rights Project to CNN.
Transgender people deal with higher risk of abuse, both verbal and physical, and 41 percent of transgender people have already attempted suicide, according to a graphic created by Trans Student Educational Resources.
There have been many times where trans issues have been looked at as irrelevant or as a joke. Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson’s comedy show at Michigan State University in March was an example of this, and many people reacted via facebook to show their anger towards the school’s allowance of the offensive jokes.
I was in attendance of the show, and was one of many excited people to see Davidson and his guest performers. The show began with an openly gay comic, essentially bashing himself because ‘he would rather be straight’. He made several comment throughout the night about how being bisexual is a ‘cop-out’, and continued to call trans people ‘trannies’. Davidson came on stage, and began his stand-up, which was funny until he brought up his opinion of ‘trannies’. He referenced the genitalia they were born with, saying that transgender women ‘aren’t women if they’re born as a man’. Davidson repeatedly used the phrase ‘you’re a guy!’ Until he moved on to his next set of jokes.
Personal anecdotes aside, this entire show is the epitome of why trans people feel uncomfortable in society. According to a survey performed by the Williams Institute, it is estimated that 0.3 percent of the population, or 700,000 adults, identified that way. Bullying 700,000 people in America by telling them their gender that they were born with describes them is a one way ticket to a higher suicide and violence rate.
It’s time that trans visibility is taken seriously. Trans characters in movies and television shows need to be played by actual trans people, not cis white people. This aforementioned multi service center in The Bronx is one way of being able to show trans people that they do have support and places they can go for help. If more of these centers were created, and there was a higher visibility for trans people, at least in the United States, the world could be changed in a positive way.