November 20, 2013
“1 in 12 transgender people are murdered.”
I love stats as much as the next person, but until we can actually source this number, can we stop quoting it?
As today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, I’ve seen that statistic waved around quite a bit. Ask anyone, though, and they cannot point you to the true source of that number. “It was on the HRC website, but now it’s gone.” Actually, looking at a cached version of the page, no where does it say “1 in 12” or “an 8.33% chance,” or anything of the sort. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers who are just referencing one another, but no primary sources.
Others have pointed to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
I read through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, hoping for some insight as to where this number had originated, and while I did find one of the most solidly great resources for explaining Trans 101 to someone (seriously, go check it out), I couldn’t find data that would lead me to that conclusion.
There are 313,900,00 people in the United States. Using the number provided by the Williams Institute, that would mean there are 941,700 transgender people in the United States. Using the high range of the NCTE number, there may be as many as 3,139,000 transgender people throughout the country. For the sake of argument, let’s find a spot between those two numbers: 0.65% of the population, or 2,040,350 transgender people.
If we are to believe that “1 in 12 transgender people are murdered,” we’d need to believe that over the course of our lifetime (and excluding any future trans people who have yet to be born), more than 170,000 trans people will be murdered. For reference, in 2010, there were a total of 16,259 homicides. That’s total. For all people, transgender and cisgender.
On average, there are roughly 20-25 transgender people murdered in the U.S. annually. I know this number is likely grossly underestimated, but hold on. Over the course of 80 years, roughly the span of a life, that would mean 2,000 trans people will have been murdered. Even if the true number of trans murders is ten times as high, that would only put us at 20,000 trans people murdered (which, obviously, is a lot, but certainly not the 170,000 needed to make the “1 in 12 number” work)
I’m not saying any of this data should be used as a statistic to point to. What I am saying is that it appears extremely unlikely that the “1 in 12” number is correct. Far too many trans people find themselves the victims of ant-transgender violence, but luckily for us, it’s not 1 out of every 12 of us.
November 19, 2013
Tomorrow, the governor of Illinois will be in Chicago to hold a bill signing event for Illinois’ new marriage equality law. There will be parties, there will be fanfare.
Tomorrow is also Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to memorialize the victims of anti-transgender violence.
If you need evidence of the disconnect between the LGB and the T, look no further than Twitter, Facebook, a Chicago-based news outlet. You are sure to see wild celebration and dance parties in one section of Chicago’s Boystown, and solemn remembrance just blocks away.
While the Supreme Court heard the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, an Arizona legislator put forward a plan to criminalize the use of public restrooms by transgender individuals. Take a guess where the majority of the LGBT media’s attention was.
There is such symbolism in the divide in attitude we are certain to see tomorrow.
Party on, LGBs. We’ll be over here.
November 18, 2013
Earlier today, I wrote an article at Thought Catalog about my annual conversation with my mother in regards to her “War on Christmas” pins. Shortly after publishing it, I decided to dive into the the mindset of someone who actually believes that there’s some sort of attack against Christmas.
Eric Owens, Education Editor at the Daily Caller, a conservative media outlet, is one of my favorite examples. I’d like everyone to look at these two pieces by Owens, both published within the past 5 weeks, and find the hypocrisy.
On one hand, observing a Muslim holiday by taking the day off of school (much like Christmas is an observed holiday in public schools…) in a public school is an attempt to “force their religion on everybody else.”
In the other piece, the mere thought that public schools would not be singing about the tiny baby Jesus and God and so on — that is a WAR! What’s this? Someone suggested that the school include a few secular holiday tunes in their performances (“Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” and so on). This is tantamount to the attack on Pearl Harbor! This means war!
This is how those who believe in a “War on Christmas” operate. They decry anything religious in public schools unless it’s their religion we’re talking about; in which case, there needs to be more of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. What I don’t love are hypocrites.
November 18, 2013
My mother wears a pin.
Every year, around November, she’ll affix 2 pins to her jacket: “KEEP THE ‘CHRIST’ IN ‘CHRISTMAS’” and “IT’S OKAY! YOU CAN SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!”
Seeing these, I cannot help but roll my eyes. Why must my mom, a generally apolitical person, find herself sucked into the absurdity that is the “War on Christmas?”
Every year, I ask, “What does the ‘KEEP THE ‘CHRIST’ IN ‘CHRISTMAS’” pin mean? Why do you wear it?”
“Because people are going around saying ‘Xmas,’ and that’s them trying to take Jesus out of the holiday,” she responded.
Stunned, I’ll stand there, considering whether or not to yet again engage in this debate. After all, I knew that “Xmas” wasn’t a plot to take “Christ out of Christmas,” but rather that it was first used in the 1500s. I knew that the “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi…
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November 17, 2013
I never quite know how to answer questions about “the transgender community.” To me, the Transgender Community™ is a product of the greater LGBT-industrial complex, just s neat way to classify those of us on the island of misfit toys. Trans individuals are just as diverse and complex as any other grouping of people.
Liberal, conservative; affluent, poor; we’re all individuals. While we may have a common interest, a common goal policy-wise… Actually, that’s not even true. I recently wrote a post about the need for public accommodation protections for trans individuals. To my surprise, a trans person used the comments section of my piece to advocate against these types of protections. Even common threads, similarities — these in themselves do not a community make.
I don’t feel a part of any sort of community. I don’t feel as though I belong to anything. I feel just as lost as anyone else, and I don’t know that it’s fair to pretend there’s this “community,” this bond that connects us. I don’t feel this bond. I wish I did. I wish I did feel the existence of a true community, but I don’t. Or, at very least, I don’t feel one that I’m a part of or welcome in.
November 15, 2013
There’s a scene in Lilo & Stitch (the saddest Disney movie ever made, by the way) where Lilo (a girl living with her older sister) is reading Stitch (an alien who crash landed on Earth) The Ugly Duckling. There’s a page in the book that shows the duckling, all alone, away from his family. “I’m lost!” he cries out. The next page shows him surrounded by his family after they found him.
In the movie, Stitch, who was the result of a genetic experiment, and therefore doesn’t have any biological family, takes the book from Lilo’s room, taking it out into the middle of the forest. He cries out, “I’m lost!” He hopes this will lead to him finding his family, finding a purpose in life. No one comes. He falls asleep in the forest waiting for them.
When I first saw this scene, I cried. It’s just so sad.
I feel a lot like Stitch lately. I feel lost. I feel as though I don’t really have true purpose in the world.
Yes, I have a mom, dad, siblings, and so on. It’s just that, when it comes to family that’s created by other friends and loved ones, I do feel lost. I feel so lost.
I’ve always dreamed about starting a family, and I’ve always wanted to have kids. I want to be a mother, a parent, a wife, a friend. I worry that these things aren’t in the cards for me.
I look back on my life and notice the pattern: every one of my friendships has dissolved. One would have to be delusional to think that the cause of these strained personal relationships is everyone else. I know that it’s not them, that it’s me. I know that there’s just something about me that drives people away. I know I’m the cause of this, and I know that no matter how much I try to fix things, to be a better person, to be a normal human being, I’ll always drive those closest to me away.
I often wish that I just never existed. No, I’m not saying that I will hurt myself. I’m just saying that I wish that I wasn’t ever here in the first place. I feel as though my net impact on the world has been negative. I feel as though no matter how much I try to turn that around, I’m unable. Some might say that my writing has been helpful, but in terms of personal relationships, my life is broken because my personality is broken.
Like Stitch, here I am, sitting here yelling “I’m lost” into the empty forest.
November 14, 2013
Salon recently devoted an article to saying Thought Catalog has started a “trolling revolution.” James B. Barnes has already written a response piece to that (thanks for the shout out in there, James!), but I’d like to talk about a website that actually is trying to start this revolution: the people of returnofkings.com.
If you’re not familiar, returnofkings.com is run by a bunch of “Men’s Rights Activists” (i.e. white guys who think the world is somehow out to get them for being white guys… yeah, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds) who seem to strive for a world straight out of a Tucker Max book. Or maybe a Chuck Palahniuk novel? Oh! I know! The Matrix. MRAs absolutely love the Matrix. In other words, it very well may be the worst website to exist in the history of the internet.
Anyyyyyyway. Let’s take a look at their “About” page.
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November 13, 2013
I recently read about Alissah Brooks, a transgender woman from Atlanta, Georgia, and her recent run-in with a bouncer who denied her entry to a club on the basis of her gender identity. For those who haven’t yet read this story, after attending a GLAAD event in Atlanta, Brooks and a few friends stopped at Don Pollo Bar & Grill. Brooks was denied entry to the bar after a bouncer asked to see her ID. Her friends then explained Brooks’ transgender status to an employee of the club, saying they believed Brooks was denied entry on account of her status as a trans woman. The employee’s response? “What’s wrong with that? We can do that — we have the right to be selective. We can do that. We’re a private property.”
Actually, they can’t. This would appear to violate a city ordinance put in place to protect LGBT individuals.
I wish I could say this was the first time something like this has happened to a transgender woman, but that would be a lie. In fact, it was only a few months ago that one of my friends and I were denied entry to a bar in Chicago. On July 19th, after going to a concert on Chicago’s north side, my friend and I decided to end the night by stopping at a bar for a drink. As most bars were jam-packed, we kept walking until we found one with a little more breathing room. That’s when we stumbled upon Big City Tap, a bar that lives up to its nickname of “Big Shitty Tap.”
We approached the door. The bouncer eyed us suspiciously. He held up his hand as if to say, “IDs, please,” and we went ahead, giving him our drivers licenses. He looks at mine, then up at my face; back down at the card, up at my face. He hands me my license, waving me into the nearly-empty bar. My friend, wearing a cute dress that went down to her knees, covered her shoulders, and showed minimal cleavage, handed her license to the bouncer. Immediately, he calls for me to come back out of the bar. I heard the tail end of the conversation between my friend and the bouncer. “Wait, what?” she asked, confused by the situation. “Dress code. That’s all I’m saying,” he replied, waving us away.
We walked away from the bar, not necessarily in the mood to get into an argument over the right to purchase an overpriced beer and sit in a bar blasting shitty music. Still, though, it stung. I felt like a freak; I felt subhuman. There was no way to interpret “dress code” as anything other than another way of saying, “stay out, tr*nnies.” After all, it wasn’t until the bouncer saw that my friend’s drivers license didn’t match his own initial read of her gender that he shooed us away. Had this legitimately been about some sort of dress code, why did he look at the license in the first place? The people who were in the bar? Girls in low-cut shirts that bared their midriffs, guys in t-shirts and jeans, a man in cargo shorts with flip flops, a girl in a short skirt who wasn’t wearing shoes at this point in the evening. Clearly, there was no dress code in place.
We made our way to a different bar, had a drink, and called it a night. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened at Big City Tap. It seemed as though, from an attire-based point of view, anyone could enter the bar so long as the sex listed on their drivers license matched their outward gender presentation.
In what other circumstance would it be okay to discriminate against someone like this? To deny someone access to public accommodations? “No blacks allowed.” “Men only.” “Must have blue eyes and blond hair to enter.” “Must be taller than 6’ to drink here.” “No disabled welcome.” In each of these situations, there’d be a thunderous outcry against the business. This isn’t to say that there aren’t places that do discriminate against people on the basis of race, sex, appearance, and so on; but rather that it’s seen as less culturally acceptable. For transgender people, this kind of treatment is almost expected.
One of my greatest fears is that I’ll find myself in the hospital for some reason, and just left to die. Or that I’ll be in a car crash and upon realizing I’m transgender, being left on the side of the road by paramedics. You might think I’m being paranoid, but these fears are more rational than one would think.
In 2010, Erin Vaught, a transgender woman, checked into a Muncie, Indiana Emergency Room after she started coughing up blood. In spite of her ID, which listed her as female, she was entered into the hospital system as a male (this part has actually already happened to me). She was then sent to an exam room where she was referred to as a “he-she,” “transvestite,” and an “it” by hospital staff. There she waited for two hours without treatment until a doctor showed up, only to tell her that they would not be treating her on account of her “condition.” She was then sent home.
To be clear, by “condition,” these doctors were not referring to whatever it was that led to her coughing up blood. Rather, they were stating that they would not treat her on account of her transgender status. Even though the two issues were entirely separate, the doctor refused her service on account of her gender identity.
Along with examples of discrimination against transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations, it’s become the norm to expect the worst and hope for the best. It’s not right, though. It’s not right at all. We shouldn’t have to.
This is why I cringe anytime I hear someone say that adding legal protections for transgender individuals is giving us a “special right” or a “special treatment.” There’s nothing special about wanting to be treated with dignity and respect, whether it’s stopping at a bar for a drink or seeking medical treatment.
So, before anyone jumps in and says “why don’t you just go to a different bar?” I want to make one thing clear: this isn’t about the bar. This isn’t about a single event. This is about the world piling on us until we can’t take it anymore.
November 11, 2013
Even still, I feel like an imposter. I’ve been out to everyone in my life, work and personal/social, since March. Still, I often feel like I shouldn’t be me when in public. Shame and a lifetime of hiding leads me to doubt myself more than may be healthy.
I don’t typically wear clothes that are too overtly feminine. I wear jeans. I wear t-shirts. I wear flats.
I don’t wear dresses. I don’t wear skirts. I don’t wear high heels. I am afraid of these items of clothing. I am afraid of being judged by those around me, and I am afraid of my own reflection.
Today I wrote a yellow blouse to work. The entire day, I felt extremely self conscious, afraid that I’m being read as a freak. I realize this is all in my head.
Anyway, this is just something I’ve been dealing with lately.