What it’s like to be transgender in America

Ayesha Shakya
7 min readDec 13, 2016


The transgender community in the United States remains a minority within a minority. Many live on the margins of society and face discrimination, stigma and violence on a daily basis. Although media attention and representation has seen an increase in recent years, the transgender community is still largely misrepresented and misunderstood.

I wanted to work with the transgender community to understand their problems and struggles and share their individual stories. From the callout titled ‘As a transgender individual, what kind of discrimination have you faced?’, I received 81 responses from people from all walks of life who shared their daily struggles, challenges as well as their hopes for the future.

I will be releasing the responses in a series of posts, this being the first one. For reasons of privacy and security, some respondents have asked not to reveal their names or their identities.

Have you faced any discrimination as a transgender individual?

I transitioned on the job and was fired for sexual harassment. I am suing my previous employer. I almost committed suicide because of my experiences with my job.

Alyna Joli Romain

When speaking on the phone or radio the use of “Sir” comes into play often to which I understand my voice is still primarily masculine. But I do let people on the other end know my name and start with hello, this is Miss Mia Serraino. Some pick it up quickly others just continue with the sir thing. I have hung up on people that will not use the correct pronouns.

Mia Serraino

When I had an accident, the doctor decided to counsel me on Reparative Therapy instead of treating my wounds. I also had a police officer threaten to pink slip me even after my Doctor and the EMTs said I was fine. I finally went to the hospital after he said I would be arrested if I didn’t go. This makes me mad, sad, wonder if life is worth living. They reaffirmed my belief that the world is a dangerous place if you are Trans.


One experience that really stood out to me was when I was using the women’s bathroom at a public park. I was dressed in all men’s clothing and wearing a binder, however, because I did not feel comfortable using the men’s bathroom at the time, I chose to use the women’s. While I was washing my hands, a young woman, about my age, walked past me and said, “I hope you get raped,” before exiting the bathroom.They made me feel less than human, but they also helped me see that for every heartless person, there are a dozen kindhearted people willing to stand up for what is right.

Kalina Merriam

I’ve been called horrible names and threatened with bodily harm. It makes me very nervous to be out in public alone.

Candice Trice

(If you would want to help Candice undergo her Gender Reassignment Surgery, please donate here.)

I am not out due to possible discrimination on the job. I am afraid I will loose my job if I came out. This transition that I am going through is for me. I swore that I would not let it interrupt or financially ruin me or my family. I love me, but they come first. On the inside I feel right, the outside will come when and if available without ruining my family.


I am generally just not treated the same as other men. I’m routinely excluded from “guys” events (sports games, going out to eat, anything that’s a group of guys getting together).


In my life I have been able to pass with the cis gender people. So I get a lot of flack from other trans people for being visible. They don’t want to associate with me because I’m open and out about my trans-ness. Some won’t take pics with me because they feel it would out them. Others don’t speak to me at all in fear of being labeled trans through association. Also, many trans women look down on me for advocating. I’ve heard many people say who does he think he is. We been doing this work for many years and he comes out of the woodwork and he’s opening a non-profit organization. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s not going to work. He’s not going to do it.

Jevon Martin

If you would like to help someone from the community in finding a safe place to reside, please visit http://www.princessjanaeplace.org/.

It’s hard to discuss my experience in terms of “discrimination.” There have certainly been incidents of hostility or slurs, but nothing that I can definitely attribute to discrimination. I’m well aware of the privilege(s) that I have that prevent those incidents from having any substantial impact. Do they annoy me? Certainly. But beyond that the effect, to date, has been minimal.

Have there been clients who didn’t hire me because I’m trans? Probably, but I’ll never know. My practice has never been more active, and that includes clients who knew me before I came out and others, some of whom know and others who may or may not — I don’t hide being trans, but I also don’t usually make it part of my discussion with a potential new client. If they ask, I certainly tell them, but I don’t bring it up myself except in the unlikely circumstance in which it’s relevant.

Kristen Browde

I live under the buckle of the bible belt. Numerous, numerous occasions of discrimination. I’m determined to survive. It has made me a fighter.

Danielle Sedona Marion

Have you faced any form of violence as a transgender individual?

According to GLAAD, 2016 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States. As of November 2016, there were 26 reported deaths, with most victims being women of color.

I asked the community if they had faced violence as a transgender individual. 34 out of the 81 respondents said yes.

Mostly verbally threatened, which is still a form of violence if you ask me. I don’t like to leave my house by myself, I don’t like to go out anywhere alone for any reason if I can avoid it.

Jamie Lenea Jensen

Raped and beaten when outed. I fear everyone. I’m constantly worried someone will see me as female.

Kaleb Grey

I stay away from crowds. I walk fast and do not stop, even if someone grabs at me — which has happened at least three times. I resent people who stare at me and make rude comments. I’m scared and angry a lot and suspicious of strangers. If someone tries to make conversation with me, I usually get up and walk away because I know at some point they will ask me if I’ve had “the surgery” and can they look? Yes, complete strangers have asked me to show them my genitalia IN PUBLIC. I makes me sick to my stomach when they do this and I want to run home, lock all my doors, and just sleep for a week.

Michelle Rose

In the early days of my transition before I worked up the nerve to use the Women’s room I Used a mens room on 3 occasions. The first 2 times I was verbally assaulted and the 3rd time I was physically assaulted and dragged by my hair and shirt out of the building. Upon calling the police I was told it was my own fault because of how I was dressed.

Cathy Serino

I have been threatened many times in the restroom. Several occasions when my young son was present. It makes me feel weak and unprepared to protect my son while out from the way the world sees his dad.

Nix Sturgeon

If you want your story to be heard, and want to help others understand the discrimination and violence faced by transgender individuals, please fill out this form.