Transgender and non-binary people are our neighbors, our friends, our coworkers and our classmates.
With millions of adults throughout the world identifying as transgender or non-binary, there’s a good chance that you’ve met a transgender person and don’t even know it. The term transgender describes people whose gender identity is different than the sex they were assigned at birth. They’re no less deserving of rights and freedoms than any other person, however, transgender people face disproportionately higher rates of human rights discrimination than any other community.
2017 has been called ‘the best and worst year for trans people’ in the U.S. and Canada. Despite the political victories, greater representation in the media, and new policies protecting trans rights advancing every day, a glaring disparity still exists for trans people when it comes to the most basic elements of life: freedom from harassment and violence, having a place to live, and finding a job.
Mistreatment and violence
In 2017, over 300 transgender people were killed by violent means, and at least 26 of those were in North America. According to the United States Transgender Survey (USTS), almost half of trans people have been sexually assaulted and these figures only represent the cases that were reported and investigated—these rates are even higher for trans people of color.
Access to housing
For many of us, it’s difficult to imagine life without a home: a safe and secure place to live is one of life’s necessities. Yet one in four transgender people who responded to the USTS have faced housing instability or discrimination—such as being evicted from their homes or denied housing—simply because of their gender identity.
Homelessness is major issue for the transgender community, too with one in three trans people experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives. And although there are many reasons that contribute to this, most people report violence, discrimination and even being rejected by their own family as the main causes for being unable to find a home.
We all expect the workplace to be a safe and accepting environment, but many trans people have experienced privacy violations, harassment and even physical and sexual violence on the job. Some have been refused employment simply because of who they are, and others turn to sex and drug work to escape extreme levels of unemployment and poverty. More than 25 percent of trans people have lost a job due to bias, and more than 75 percent say they’ve experienced some form of workplace discrimination. This needs to stop.
How can you be an ally?
There are many ways to be a trans ally, and encouraging people to be aware of the problems faced by the transgender community is just the beginning. One way to be an ally is to simply be nice, open-minded and mindful of the challenges faced by others. Another is to learn about communities and their struggles, and ways in which you can help them in their fight for human rights, dignity and equality.