Happy Pride Month, everyone! The month is almost over but before it ends, we wanted to dispel just a few myths surrounding trans people and the issues they face. Let’s begin!
1. Being transgender is about adhering to a strict binary.
When one hears the term “transgender” they might think it means transitioning from one gender to another. However, that’s not necessarily the case. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, gender is a bit more flexible than that. In addition to identifying as a man or woman, people identify as both, neither or somewhere in between. Thinking about gender in more complex and nuanced ways will help bridge the gap in understanding trans identity.
2. Transgender people using their preferred bathroom will cause spikes in sexual assault cases.
As “bathroom bills” continue to pop up around the U.S. in an attempt to lower sexual assault risks, much debate has been sparked around the idea that letting trans people use the bathroom of their choosing is dangerous. The argument that having protections in place for trans people who want to use their preferred bathroom will encourage sexual predators to use those protections to their own advantages. However, there appears to be no proof that anti-discrimination laws regarding gender identity has led to an increase in sexual assault cases in bathrooms. This CNN article debunking that argument actually states that trans people are more likely to be harassed in bathrooms, which brings us to the next myth.
3. Trans people don’t face violence and discrimination.
Representation of trans people is still very sparse in our media today and there is very little coverage of the many acts of violence perpetrated against them. This GLAAD article continuously updates the number of trans people that are killed in 2017. The number is currently at 13. Last year there were 27 trans people killed, the overwhelmingly majority of them being women of color. In Georgia alone, 27% of respondents in this 2015 survey say they have experienced some form of housing discrimination. 34% of respondents report facing some kind of mistreatment at their job from being fired to being harassed verbally.
4. All trans people want/need to transition to “match” their gender identity.
Not all trans people want to undergo surgery to align themselves with their identity. The process of transitioning is often more complicated than we might realize. Aside from the health care issues that can pop up like making sure your insurance will cover your medical costs, there’s also a lot of legal work that goes into transitioning. Many people can’t afford it or simply don’t want to go through the trouble.
5. Identifying as trans is a mental health issue.
Although identifying as trans stopped being classified as a mental illness a few years ago, this myth is still perpetuated. This Time article suggests that the social factors and potential of facing violence contributes more to mental illness than solely identifying as transgender. Instead, many trans people often experience gender dysphoria, which is emotional and mental distress in regard to their gender. However, this is not an issue that only trans people experience but is something that can affect anyone regardless of their gender identity.
There is still much conversation and work to be done in understanding and protecting trans people. This is just a small way in which Georgia Shift is contributing. We hope everyone continues to have a safe and happy pride month!