November is Transgender Awareness Month

Jasper Ramirez, Art Editor

Transgender is an umbrella term that describes a diverse group of people whose gender identity or expression differs from the gender they were assigned to at birth. According to University of California Los Angeles School of Law’s Williams institute, an estimated 700,000, or 0.3% of adults identify as transgender in the United States.

Transgender students face many issues. In 33 states, including Utah, anti-bullying laws for LGBT students are not in place. Many transgender students battle with discrimination, harassment, and isolation. Bathrooms also factor in as a problem, as transgender students may risk their safety to use the bathroom they prefer, or use the bathroom that can cause dysphoria. Dysphoria is a state of unease many transgender people feel.

“I have had many experiences in school where I have had to choose an entire gender identification or I would fail a class, get detention, or be forced to not participate. School is separated, in so many ways, by assigned or perceived sex and gender regardless of what a student is most comfortable with. The lack of knowledge and education about anything trans-related is absolutely horrible and can enforce transphobic or binary mindsets and harmful stereotypes.” said Lucas Luker [real name withheld].“When I was in elementary school, other kids demonized trans kids, or anyone going outside of assigned gender norms. We teach our kids when they are infants to not use a specific bathroom, that long hair means girl and dresses and colors and toys. We gender every single thing there is to gender and the moment someone steps outside of these norms, they are ridiculed. I think I speak for a lot of kids in saying that bullying is an extremely, extremely common thing for gender non-conforming or transgender youth. I’ve been called [transphobic slurs] way too many times to count, and that i’m not ‘fooling’ anyone. Other kids have groped me, called me an “it” and that I’m worthless or a freak, and once again, I think I speak for a lot of kids in saying that I believed them. A lot of this internalized transphobia is enforced in our school systems, and discrimination against trans kids is rarely considered an issue when reported,” Luker added.

November is Transgender Awareness month. This month is dedicated to raising awareness for transgender people. November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember lives of transgender people who have been lost due to anti-transgender discrimination and victimization. Transgender Day of Remembrance was started by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender advocate, in memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1998.

GendeRevolution is an annual event held on November 15 hosted by the Utah Pride Center. This year was their 6th year hosting the event. Featured are workshops, education, and more. The goal of GenderRevolution is to foster community building, provide resources and educate.

“It felt really nice getting more involved with the LGBT community. I’m so glad that I went and I felt so much better about myself afterwards. There were two presentations that I felt especially connected to even though the topics that empowered me weren’t exactly related to gender or sexuality,” said Hugh Smith [real name withheld], who attended the event.

Students don’t have to be transgender in order to participate. There are many ways to join in on Transgender Awareness Month. Some such things include starting a conversation in person or on social media, educating yourself, and attending a transgender awareness event. Students can also change how they view transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.