Discrimination and a unique set of obstacles are common amongst all members of the LGBT community, but oftentimes transgender individuals receive higher rates of discrimination and are faced with more hurdles to overcome than their lesbian, gay, and bisexual companions. The reason for this heightened discrimination may be the simultaneous rejection of both gender and sexual societal norms. Though transgender individuals are often credited with propelling the LGBT movement, they oftentimes becomes a lightening rod for discrimination outside of their community.
In fact, in 1969 during the Stonewall riots two prominent activists were trans-women of color. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were in the front lines during the riots and continued to fight for gay and trans rights in years to come. Though some claim that gender rights and sexual orientation mustn’t be linked together in the same fight for equality, past experience has taught us that the LGBT movement prefers to band together.
But while the transgender community has offered incredible amounts of support and helped to be a voice for the LGBT movement, they face both passive and aggressive demonstrations of discrimination at a higher rate than most LGBT citizens. Transgender individuals experience a higher rate of both teen and adult poverty, harassment in the workplace, and sexual harassment. They also experience sexual harassment and anti-LGBT motivated violence at a higher rate. In fact, according to a study done by the National Coalition of Anti Violence Programs, 72 percent of anti LGBT violence is directed to transgender individuals.
Though the road to improvement looks difficult, many are on their way to creating a better way of life through raising awareness, active and open conversation and legislative and legal steps like making bathrooms genderless and making legal documents accessible to transgender individuals. Legal documents dictate many aspects of day to day life from travel to work to education. Having inaccurate documents with incorrect name and gender listed can make services unaccessible and put transgender individuals in danger.
For those who are transgender, there are many resources available both in the greater Bloomington area and nationally. Wether to address discriminatory actions or simply have discussions with other members of the LGBT community that might provide support, there are services like the Transgender Lifetime at 877-565-8860 or Gender Warriors, an Indiana University based private group that is open to all transgender or non-binary individuals for a place to discuss and support one another.