In 2015, transgender people were more visible ever in American culture. Women like Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, and Caitlyn Jenner became showed up on television screens and red carpets. But 2015 was also the year with the highest number of fatal hate crimes against transgender people on record. We talk to Detroit Native and executive director of the Trans Women of Color Collective about what has and hasn’t changed in the fight for transgender rights.
The experiences of transgender people are more visible than they’ve ever been in America.
Popular television shows like Orange is the New Black and movies like the recently released The Danish Girl have featured both transgender characters and actors.
But while the transgender community is more visible, many still face the threat of discrimination and violence on a daily basis.
Lourdes Ashley Hunter, executive director of the Trans Women of Color Collective, joined Current State to discuss what has and hasn’t changed for the transgender community.
Hunter says that transgender people face discrimination and violence just for being themselves.
“Most people receive the same type of policing,” said Hunter, a Detroit native. “But it’s heightened for transgender people because we live in a heteronormative society.”
However, the real injustice starts at the legislative level, according to Hunter.
“There are 34 states that actively discriminate against transgender people through health care access, housing, employment or education opportunities,” said Hunter.
“Just this year there have been 44 anti-transgender bills filed across 16 states. 23 of those bills target children.”
South Dakota lawmakers recently passed a bill that requires transgender children in public schools to use the bathroom and locker room of the sex they were assigned at birth.
Hunter says laws like these create an unsafe environment for transgender people, especially children.
“In many schools we’ve seen transgender children experience bullying in locker rooms – even rape,” said Hunter. “These particular laws are now forcing trans children to experience that type of violence.”
Hunter says that having transgender people on television and in the movies does a lot to promote acceptance in society.
But she wants people to know that the stories of transgender people who aren’t celebrities need to be heard, too.
“Transgenders are more than actors, we’re more than models,” said Hunter. “We’re people who live every day lives.”
Article by Ethan Merrill, Current State Intern