As soon as I walk out the front door I am greeted with the ugly headed dragon of discrimination. I actually like dragons, even have a couple in ceramic, but I don’t like this one. It rears its ugly head day in and day out. When I take a walk, when I buy a candy bar, when I try to shop for clothing, when I am sitting at the computer, when I try to use the bathroom in public; are you getting the idea here? I am not the only one that experiences this phenomenon, this transphobia. Unless you blend in perfectly, and even if you do, as a transgender person you are going to have to face this kind of discrimination from the day you come out to the very day you draw your last breath and even then someone may have an “issue” taking care of your last remains. If you pass perfectly but fail to disclose this to people close to you, you could lose your life in a very literal sense. So many of us have died violently, there is a transgender day of remembrance on November 20th. Every year one or more of us stands up in front of our peers and reads the endlessly growing list of our fallen sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters; while the world takes little notice. This is very frustrating that a lot of very beautiful people are being crushed every day, little by little, by the transphobic dragon of discrimination. Some of us don’t make it, some of us end our lives in the tragic pursuit of the gender we were supposed to be. It’s a harsh reality that we face every single day in some of the following ways:
- Using the public washroom: Cisgender people do not have to give this a second thought, but for a transgender person it can be a matter of embarrassment or assault; or both. If you are a transgender man and In the “Boys” room, you may be discovered at any moment which could lead to a beating or worse. You have to sweat this out every single time you use a public washroom. Try being a transgender woman and using the woman’s washroom, if they read you as a man you are going to end up in front of a police officer or overzealous security guard. This usually results in a legal action of which most of the time the transgender person wins, yet it does not change the situation for us in any way.
- Working: Again, cisgender people at job interviews do not have to explain their gender or orientation do they? Of course not, that would be Illegal! Yet this goes on every time a transgender person enters the job interview situation. You have to explain what a transgender person is, what your gender is, your operation status, why you are transitioning, how long it will take and you have to find out which bathroom you can use, if any. This is pretty much all before you are asked a single question about your qualifications or skills you may be bringing to the job. If the potential employer seems any issues with you and your transition in the workplace, you simply do not get the job; regardless if your resume glows like the sun. There are no anti-discrimination laws for the most part and you can be let go simply by trying to transition on the job.
- Socializing: There are places in town that you just cannot go to as a transgender person. Try a sports bar for example; you are taking your life into your own hands when placed in a situation where there is alcohol, men and their insecurities. People will be afraid to introduce you to their friends and relatives or take you along to get together; they are “OK” with it, but their family, friends, boss might not be. Your social life is completely whipped out the moment you come out as being a transgender person. Your friends and family before you come out will most likely be gone. Thankfully this is not always the case and some families are very supportive; this did not happen in the case of my family however; I now walk alone in this life.
- Renting: I personally have been turned down by apartment managers and landlords because I am a transgender person. I was told blatantly that one managers wife “just could not take it” so they refused to rent to me. In a very similar way to the job interview, you have to explain everything about you, your life and your transition just to apply to get an apartment. Again if the manager see’s any issue with you and the rest of the tenants they simply don’t rent to you. A large majority of us face homelessness with little or no social services to help us. Some even refuse stating they “have not been trained” to deal with transgender people so we are left out in the cold.
- On-line: On line we are continually attacked on our facebook and Google plus pages. You block so many people who hate you just because you are transgender that the list is so long you get bored scrolling down it. Religious people, transphobic people, cisgender people who have an issue with you and your transgender status. Not to mention radical feminists who spend the majority of their time putting down transgender people and implying that we are not, in fact, human beings. Once that has been established in their minds, we are fair game; so we are openly pursued and attacked by them. While at the same time they cry oppression from men.
- Suicide: A staggering 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide according to latest surveys. Is there any wonder we do with all the things we have to go through? Some of us are even assaulted in doctors’ offices! We are more likely to suffer from mental illness than the general population i.e., depression, anxiety and suicidal ideations. High school is a total nightmare, remember what happened to the kid in your class who was different, you might as well paint a target on the transgender kid. People will be freaking out about your genitals and the bathroom before you even begin to understand why you are “wrong” and not like the other kids.
Every day of every year transgender people face these problems and more. The dragon of discrimination looms waiting for them as they walk out their front door. Placing their lives in danger simply by being seen in public, alone at night? Forget it. Cisgender people laugh at us, giggle as we walk by, whisper things like “that’s just plain wrong” just loud enough for you to hear it. Shoot you funny looks, tell you that you’re a freak or even better, and refuse you entry into places like churches and public pools. It’s politically incorrect to discriminate and harass any person based on their race, culture, gender or religion; but it IS ok to harass and discriminate against transgender people. We are told that we “bring it on ourselves” by the way we dress or act. Would it be OK if i punched you in the face and then explained that you brought that on yourself based on how you are dressed? The dragon is out there, just waiting for us, every single day.