Being Transgender in America

Sasha Wall, trans WOC, murdered in South Carolina April 2018 credit: Human Rights Campaign

I am currently working on a book proposal. In this book I hope to weave a communal memoir of what it means to be trans in the United States today. Why another memoir? There are plenty of stories one can read about out celebrity trans individuals right? Well, yes, there are, but no offense to many of my brothers and sisters that are celebrities and trans; their overall life today is not a full reflection of the everyday fight of many trans Americans.

For example, did you know that 1 in 12 trans people will be physically assaulted? Or 1 in 8 if you are a trans person of color? Even more the transgender population of America faces double the rate of unemployment, while 97% of trans individuals have reported being harassed on the job. Additionally, 15% of the trans population live below the poverty line, meaning they will face housing insecurity, police harassment and more.

Yet it is this population that is constantly under assault by the Donald Trump regime. A campaign that was promoted under the slogan, “Make America Great Again” is really aiming to make the country great only for elitist white Americans, and is continuing to oppress and destroy the families, and lives of trans people. This week alone has seen two direct attacks on the transgender citizens of the United States. First, was the support of the trans ban by the US Supreme Court. We know this battle will continue at the lower courts, but for the time being the SCOTUS has allowed for banning service members that are not cisgender, and we may see over 13,000 trans individuals fired in the coming weeks. Secondly, the Trump administration has allowed for religious discrimination to move forward in the foster care system in South Carolina. A move that will allow tax-payer funded child welfare providers to deny foster care rights to LGBT individuals, and directly harm the overwhelming number of LGBT juveniles in the foster care system. In the US 40% of all youth that are homeless, or in the foster care system identify as LGBT. This move by the administration again puts the lives of trans people at risk, and also denies trans adults from adopting and housing children as well.

For many of us we saw the writing on the wall. Donald Trump ran like a would-be dictator and in the recent months has done nothing short of believe he is one. We have seen the government shut down for over a month while he wants to build a wall founded on lies and racism, and yet is still finding time to attack the most marginalized among us.

Laverne Cox, Time, “The Transgender Tipping Point”

In 2014 Time Magazine said we were at a “tipping point.” This tipping point was over the inclusion and acceptance of trans people. However seven years later many of us in the trans community can say those scales have been tipped in favor of unjust oppression. Each day we are worried about our own job security, or marriage certificates, our right to medical care and housing. The United States is following in the same footsteps of 1930s Germany as marginalized people are blamed for national ills, and systematically oppressed and removed. In 1935 one of Hitler’s first executive acts was banning Jews from serving in the military. Four years later death camps were running at high capacity. Here in the US transgender citizens are having their very right to exist questioned, erased, and attacked. We already know children are being held in cages. As trans people we ask, what will it take for the rest of the country to wake up to the gross evil being perpetrated on their watch?

When will the world around us step up and say enough is enough? As I type this I am cognizant of the fact I have family and ex-friends that support Trump wholeheartedly. As they continue to be apologists for this man they are saying it is okay to erase me, kill me, and oppress me. For many of us we see the future as bleak, and wonder how long we have left in this country? If collusion with Russia, support of white supremacy, and outright LGBT bigotry are not enough to waver support what hope is left?

As I contemplate writing this book I have come to face the fact that America has not become a better union, nor a more inclusive society. I am simply confounded with the question, what do I do next?

What do you think? What is next for the trans community in the United States? What does it mean for you to be trans in America?