Esther Wang, writing in Jezebel, gives us the horrifying account of young Trans woman’s ordeal, faced with the full force of organized abuse mustered to erase the presence of Trans individuals from everyday life:
Initially, Andraya had wanted to ignore it all, but then she asked herself, what message would other trans athletes take away from her story if she didn’t stand up for herself? She decided to intervene in the lawsuit, with the help of the ACLU. In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Andraya, who by then was a senior in high school, struck a note of defiance. “It is so painful that people not only want to tear down my successes but take down the laws and policies that protect people like me. I will never stop being me! I will never stop running!” Andraya wrote. “I hope that the next generation of trans youth doesn’t have to fight the fights that I have. I hope they can be celebrated when they succeed, not demonized. For the next generation, I run for you!”
None of this was happening in a vacuum. Andraya’s success came at the worst possible time for girls like her—a moment when trans girls and women competing in sports were quickly becoming the focus of the religious right’s efforts to legislate trans people out of public life, a coordinated assault that relied on a calculated partnership with so-called trans-exclusionary radical feminists and co-opting feminist rhetoric. After Christian conservatives lost their fight over marriage equality in 2015, they quickly pivoted to attacking trans rights, turning to collectively push for so-called bathroom bills in earnest the following year. When those failed, said Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s Deputy Director for Transgender Justice, “Our opponents started to shift very strategically to the areas of sports and healthcare for trans youth.”
Much like bathroom bills were framed as necessary to protect women and girls from the specter of predatory men, trans girls and women were now being deliberately painted as threats to gender equity in sports, to Title IX, to the supposed sanctity of competition. And it wasn’t only the typical conservative reactionaries who were jumping on board. At the end of 2018, Martina Navratilova, the tennis champion and longtime advocate for LGBT rights, announced that her push for inclusion stopped when it came to trans girls and women in sports. “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard,” she wrote in a tweet.
Violence Against Trans and Non-Binary People
Transgender individuals and communities experience shocking amounts of violence and discrimination. This section offers some information on the staggering rates of violence that trans and non-binary people face, although it should be noted that data is limited. In addition to experiencing high rates of domestic and sexual violence, trans and non-binary people are often the targets of transphobic hate crimes and state violence.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey:
- Nearly half (46%) of respondents were verbally harassed in the past year because of being transgender.
- Nearly one in ten (9%) respondents were physically attacked in the past year because of being transgender.
- Nearly half (47%) of respondents were sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime and one in ten (10%) were sexually assaulted in the past year. In communities of color, these numbers are higher: 53% of Black respondents were sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 13% were sexually assaulted in the last year.
- 72% of respondents who have done sex work, 65% of respondents who have experienced homelessness, and 61% of respondents with disabilities reported being sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
- More than half (54%) experienced some form of intimate partner violence, including acts involving coercive control and physical harm.
America’s War on Black Trans Women
by Annamarie Forestiere | Harvard Civil Rights- Civil Liberties Law Review
Sep 23, 2020
Violence against Black trans women has been accurately described as “a pandemic within a pandemic.” This summer, six Black trans women, all under the age of 32, were murdered in the span of nine days. Their deaths are part of a horrifying pattern; hate crimes against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have been on the rise for years, with the number of murders in 2020 already almost surpassing that of 2019. Of the 26 victims so far this year and the 27 victims last year, the majority have been Black trans women under the age of 30.
Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign have released several reports detailing potential sources of this violence. In particular, Black trans women are killed at disproportionate rates because of “the intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia.” A report from CNN’s discussion with Kerith Conron, from the Williams Institute at UCLA, notes that the easiest answer to why Black trans women are disproportionately victims of fatal violence is that “[t]hey’re black, they’re transgender, and they’re women. Each of those distinct identities means that they face discrimination, prejudice and inequities on multiple fronts.”
The inequities and prejudice Black trans women face don’t just take the form of outright violence. A study by the National LGBTQ Task Force indicates that Black trans people have a 26% unemployment rate. That’s twice as high as the unemployment rate for transgender people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and four times as high as the unemployment rate in the general population. The study also found other shocking disparities; 41% of Black trans people have been homeless (more than five times the general population), 34% of Black trans people have household incomes less than $10,000 (more than eight times the general population), and nearly half of the Black trans population has attempted suicide. Although these statistics apply to the Black trans population in general and not to Black trans women specifically, based on how much more frequently Black trans women are killed, it’s reasonable to assume that they also experience these harms more frequently than other Black trans people.
In short, being a Black trans woman in America means you’re far more likely than most other people to experience serious roadblocks and harms, in the form of everything from extreme poverty to violent murder.
The impact of discrimination on the mental health of trans*female youth and the protective effect of parental support
Erin C. Wilson
, DrPH, MPH,1 Yea-Hung Chen
, MS,1 Sean Arayasirikul
, MPH,1 H. Fisher Raymond
, DrPH, MPH,1
and Willi McFarland
, MD, PhD1
AIDS Behav. 2016 October ; 20(10): 2203–2211
Discrimination and rejection due to gender nonconformity often starts at an early age and puts trans*female youth at risk of isolation, school dropout and academic performance issues7. From a systems perspective, discrimination based on transgender identity leads to unequal access to education, employment, and other economic resources 6,8, which then create economic insecurity impacting safe housing and income. Economic hardship due to transphobia may be a primary reason why transwomen turn to sex work, which raises their risk for HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and violence 9–11.
An important and understudied area of research is the link between discrimination and mental health outcomes for trans* female youth. Discrimination has been linked to poor mental health outcomes among adult transgender people. Prevalence of suicide attempts in the transgender population range from 18–41%, which is 15–38 percentage points higher than in the overall U.S. population 5. Compared with cisgender females, transwomen have reported lower overall mental health and quality of life 12. A study of transwomen and transmen in Australia recently found that almost half of the sample experienced psychological distress; psychological distress was associated with younger age, lack of family social support and greater number of victimization experiences, pointing to heightened need for research with youth in the trans population 13. Recent research found that transgender youth had significantly higher risk for depression, anxiety, and suicide when compared to cisgender youth matched controls 3. In a study of transmen and transwomen, factors associated with substance use disorder and a history of substance use treatment included being a transwoman, lifetime PTSD, current depression, and current mental health treatment 14 In a previous analysis of this dataset we found that transgender-related discrimination is associated with increased odds of alcohol and drug use in our sample of trans*female youth 15. Stress related to transgender-based discrimination may similarly affect mental health outcomes in this population.
Racial discrimination on top of gender-based stigma may exert a profound effect on mental health. Racism has been linked to poor mental health among racial/ethnic minority populations 16,17. New research has investigated the pathways to poor health outcomes and identified stress as a primary mechanism affecting the mental health of racial/ethnic minority individuals 18. For racial/ethnic minority trans*female youth who manage multiple marginalized social identities (i.e., racial minorities who are gender minorities), extreme heightened stress and fewer coping mechanisms may result in poorer mental health 19.