While many Americans have become deeply involved in the increasingly hostile tribal politics that have been borne from Trumpism, transgender Americans have been quietly pushed even further to the fringes of society.
Between religious freedom being prioritized over human rights and the weaponizing of legislation to rob Transgender people of their access to basic healthcare, access to public spaces including homeless shelters, publicly banned from the military and dubbed a “burden and disruption” by the US President Donald Trump as well as the spike in homicides disproportionately affecting the community of Black Trans women specifically, Trans people in the United States experience conditions similarly to those in Mexico and Brazil. For a benchmark, America ranks third in Trans homicides just behind the two aforementioned undeveloped countries.
In America, even a suspicion of being Transgender can be dangerous. In the aftermath of Alabama and North Carolina introducing laws banning Transgender women from bathrooms, implying we are a threat to women and little girls which has resulted in a wave of physical and verbal abuse on transgender women using bathrooms, cisgender women have also been assaulted for appearing too masculine while using women’s bathrooms.
However, it’s not just bathrooms or spaces reserved for women. A 2013 study showed that Transgender women experience 72% more hate-motivated physical and verbal harassment than lesbian, gay or bisexual people.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey conducted by National Center for Transgender Equality, one out of every six Trans identifying people admitted to losing a job due to their gender identity or physical gender expression. A staggering 30% of Transgender people claimed they had been fired, denied a promotion or subjected to a hostile workplace environment as a result of their gender. Trans people experience unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate, according to GLAAD.
This has gotten exponentially worse since Donald Trump assumed office as President of the United States. The Trump administration has waged a relentless war on the lives and livelihood of transgender people nationwhide and at a federal level. He has challenged the civil rights of transgender people and moved forward with introducing a rule that removes protections of Transgender people from sex-based discrimination by rolling back former President Barack Obama’s amendments that had been revised during his presidency to be inclusive of transgender Americans and affirming of their rights. Trump’s revoking of those rights eliminates references to Trans people and now defines “Sex as only male or female and as determined by biology.”
From the US Health and Human Services Website:
“Under the final rule, HHS eliminates certain provisions of the 2016 Rule that exceeded the scope of the authority delegated by Congress in Section 1557. HHS will enforce Section 1557 by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word “sex” as male or female and as determined by biology. The 2016 Rule declined to recognize sexual orientation as a protected category under the ACA, and HHS will leave that judgment undisturbed.”
Trump has laid the groundwork for the systemic removal of transgender people, an already marginalized group, from American society. Already, trans people are four times more likely to live in poverty conditions, with statistics showing an average household income under $10,000 per year less than the population as a whole in 2013. Transgender workers report unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole.
In terms of Shelter and security, 41% of all Black Transgender people say that they have experienced homelessness- a rate more than five times that of general U.S. population. The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that both Transgender and Gender nonconforming people are more likely to be homeless and without access to shelter than the general population.
Trans people are also more likely to suffer increased incidents of mental illnesses such as severe depression, anxiety, social phobia and drug addiction- not as a result of being transgender- but as a result of the isolation, abuse, social rejection and political harassment levied at us. 92% of Transgender Americans reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25 according to The Trevor Project which tracks statistics involving the LGBTQ+ community. 57 % of trans and gender nonconforming people reported family rejection which they attributed to suicidal ideation.
Trump’s efforts to exclude LGBTQ people from the 1964 Civil rights Act failed when in June of this year, the Supreme Court voted to continue that inclusion and rejected efforts by conservatives to legalize discrimination in th workplace. By a vote of 6–3, the court said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, among other factors, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status.
Unfortunately, The Supreme Court may lose one of its few remaining Progressive Judges in Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Trump has already expressed his enthusiasm about replacing her- and Justice Sonia Sotomayer- with conservative Republican appointees who will revisit the case ensuring the outcome returns in his favor.
Life in America for a Transgender person does not reflect the experiences of other Americans, not even that of our closes allies beneath the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Whereas the visibility in general culture and media representing diverse sexual orientations has allowed for increased education and higher tolerance over the years, transgender people remain largely invisible. In 2008, a survey detailed that a mere 7% of Americans knew a transgender individual personally. By 2015, that grew to 16%. For comparison, nearly 90% of Americans reported knowing someone who identified themselves openly as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
In 1977, only 13% of Americans believed that a person was born lesbian or gay. Today, 49% agree that people are born gay. However, in a 2015 YouGov poll, most respondents clearly signaled they either found Transgender people morally unacceptable or answered “Not a moral issue.” Only an average of 14% between ages 18–65+ found it morally acceptable. Perception of Transgender people today is tragically equivalent to how gay people were viewed 42 years ago.
Another poll conducted reveals that a quarter of all Americans would refuse to be friends with a transgender person, while fewer than a fifth of all people would date a trans person.
Although Transgender people have always existed, religious and political persecution left most trans people afraid to present as their appropriate gender in public or desperately trying to live a life according to what was expected in order to thrive in society. With President Obama’s efforts to acknowledge Transgender people during his term, the population of out transgender people doubled in size because they felt safer and had more supportive resources available… most of which have been taken away as Trump’s religious liberty campaign has gained footing across the political spectrum and been embraced by his base of supporters- which has come at the expense of Transgender people.
The dark and threatening reality for Transgender Americans is knowing that they will either be attacked by our governing leadership or erased altogether. Every nuance of our lives has been impacted to devastating effect, amplified over the last five years by Donald Trump and his stamp of approval on transphobia. Our employment, healthcare, housing, equality through the gaze of the justice system, safety in our streets and even in our relationships has been compromised. More than half of all transgender people experienced some form of intimate partner violence, including acts involving coercive control and physical harm. It is common, in order to survive, for Transgender women to engage in sex work or prostitution which is why some organization maintain that the decriminalization of prostitution is central to transgender rights, indelibly entwining the two. Without sustainable income, trans people cannot afford vital medical treatments due to lack of expensive insurance.
In this article, most citation are from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey conducted by The National Center for Transgender Equality. The problem here? The face of our nation has radically changed since 2015, with Transgender people experiencing a spike in violence, and none of these statistics consider the impact of President Donald Trump, the climate of hatred and bigotry that he incited, or the impact of the assault on so many rights and protections that have been revoked or are actively being threatened from the highest offices in the nation. The rise in gender critical activists who campaign loudly against transgender people have grown deafening, and they are gaining influence and favor by politicians, especially in southern states.
Why, in 5 years, hasn't there been further research and studies on the health, safety and well-being of Trans Americans post Trump?
Trump and his ilk are deliberately creating a community of refugees in their own country by leveraging his political and evangelical allies to create obstacles that prevent transgender people from sustaining life or livelihood in America, much less, thriving as a productive member of society. We must dodge the stones of anti-trans radicals with global podiums like JK Rowling who has the ear of 14 million people on social media being groomed by her junk science and gender critical theories that vilify us- in interesting contrast, there are only 1.4 million people in the entire US. Then we have the religious zealots, political enemies and a generalized cis-supremacy we must battle daily in order to make simple life progress; To get a job, obtain a home, go to school, see a doctor, seek assistance for basic human needs… to feel safe, even online, where hate groups create lists of transgender people on social media and reveal their home addresses, government names, telephone numbers and encourage each other to harass and even harm us.
Our justice system does not protect us, but in fact, most transgender women are terrified of police. According to a study by Trans Equality, more than one-fifth (22%) of transgender people who had interacted with police reported police harassment, and 6% of transgender individuals reported that they experienced bias-motivated assault by officers. Black transgender people reported much higher rates of biased harassment and assault (38% and 15%).
In the event a transgender person must appear before a judge, it is likely they will received a punishment that exceeds their crime due to bias or prejudice expressed directly from the bench. Recently, Donald Trump demanded that the US Prison System disregard transgender identities and instead place prisoners with inmates according to their biological sex as defined by their chromosomes. Due to systemic trans inmate neglect and abuse by Prison authorities, Trans women in prison have been raped and have died.
In America, nearly every aspect of a trans person’s life is riddled with insurmountable cruelty, fear, pain, rejection, abuse, humiliation and neglect or disregard for basic human needs. While organizations mobilize to sue the US Government on our behalf, these lawsuits are mired in heavy politicization of our identities, opposition from equally funded legal teams and long court processed that rarely impact our daily lives in a positive way. More often than not, it boils down to finger waggling and tsk tsk’ing from our advocates to our political tormentors.
With the next election on the horizon, we risk complete erasure beneath the leadership of the Trump regime, his growing base that has grown far more dangerous to his critics or those who do not meet his criteria of social acceptability, and a Supreme Court that is majority conservative… and the nail in our coffin. We simply cannot continue to live at the mercy of Anti-trans radicals and be expected- chastised even, for our mental, emotional fragility and a paralyzing fear for our physical safety as the headlines, each day, announce more of our deaths.