An Attempt to Understand The Trans Community And Do Our Part As Fellow Humans.
Even though many of us might fail to understand, the rights of transgender people should not be different from others. Since it is pride month, let us first attempt to understand what the transgender community is and what it means to be a trans person.
People who identify as transgender or trans (which is an abbreviation for the same) are the ones whose current gender identity is different from the one used to identify them at the time of birth. Gender identity means the internal knowledge of our gender.
For example, a person might be identified as a boy at birth, but they identify themselves as a girl because of their personal experiences. There is a famous axiom in the transgender community movement, “Your sex is what’s between your legs; your gender is what’s between your ears.”
Is Being Intersex and Transgender the Same Thing?
People might confuse between these two, but the answer is; No, these terms are different. Intersex people have different reproductive anatomy which is outside the typical definitions of male or female. This is often discovered at birth. Transgender people, however, are born with genes or bodies that fit in either of these definitions, but their internal knowledge and experiences of gender identity are different from the one they are given or ‘assumed’ as.
This can clarify that gender identity and the anatomy of a person at birth do not necessarily have to align. Gender identity is indeed something more than that.
The Trans Community and Their Struggles
The trans community as a whole is vastly diverse. Some trans people identify as women or men, while others define themselves as genderqueer, non-binary, gender non-conforming, bigender, or other gender identities based on personal experiences. While some may take hormones or go for surgery as a part of the conversion, they may also change their pronouns.
Pronouns are another important aspect in this context, as it could be offensive to use pronouns other than those chosen by the person on their own. When addressing someone, if unsure of how to address them, it’s always better to ask.
Some trans people and any person, in general, might not exactly fit in the categories of men or women. They experience a gender fluidity and might not want to constrain one. They identify themselves as non-binary or genderqueer.
Imagine being a woman in a man’s body for one day or vice versa. The whole world, including your friends, family, and doctors seeing you for someone you are not. Wouldn’t it feel stuck? Wouldn’t it feel depressing and heart-breaking?
This is what a transgender person would regularly feel because they would feel the need to conceal their true gender identity for a long time because of the stigmas and stereotypes attached to what’s considered feminine and masculine.
Although nothing should be wrong with people expressing themselves the way they want to, there is no scarcity of sexist people in this world. Transgender people go through a lot in the daily course of life.
Discrimination, just for being who they are? When are they not harming anyone and just living their lives the way they want to? Yes, precisely. They are not treated with equality. Some of the challenges they face are:
Even though there is no specific time when a person may realise their true gender identity, the chances of this realisation are likely high while a person is growing up or in adolescence. So, as they start to express themselves during this period, the bullies around them find their opportunity to harass and bully transgender folks.
Mistreatment In The Job Market
It is not uncommon for people to be denied a job or get fired for no particular reason other than their gender identity in the job world. If they do get the job, there is a high chance they will be mistreated and harassed.
Being Denied Housing
Another common scenario is where landlords evict the trans people once they come out. This makes them homeless, and since be they also can’t land on a decent work profile, they are forced to live in extreme poverty.
4. Unfavourable Laws
Transgender people are often left out in law enforcement. Instead, rather than support, those who work for the law often target and incarcerate transgender people.
On top of the oppression and stereotyping they face, the Transgender Protection of Rights Act, 2019, further draws a bridge between the laws that apply to the trans community and the provisions in the IPC.
5. Improper Medical Care
We say that healthcare is the most basic and most imperial right that everyone must have access to. No one should not be denied it. Yet, transgender people get deprived of primary and critical medical care. Plus, if a trans person wants to opt for surgery for aligning their gender identity and anatomy, it is so expensive that most people cannot afford it. The new law also places the freedom of choosing whether or not a person gets sex affirming surgery in the hands of a district magistrate.
6. Abuse and violence–
Even when walking down the street minding their own business, transgender people are cat-called, thrown stones at, and in even worse cases, are beaten up by transphobic communities and in-humane people.
About 47% of trans folks have reported sexual and physical violence at some time in their lifetime.
The Trans Rights
Around the mid-1980s, the government began recognising trans individuals, even though history has enough examples of trans and intersex people. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, is an attempt by the Indian government to provide equity to the community. Still, the aim has backfired, considering how preposterous the provisions of the Act are.
All the challenges discussed earlier are such basic things that shouldn’t be particularly asked for but instead, be given by virtue of birth and humanity. Such things should not be gender-biased. These challenges are not only faced by the trans community but also by intersex people.
In case we haven’t realised it yet- TRANS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS. They are as human as anyone else. The things they fight for are not out of this world. These are necessities of survival such as;
– A decent job
– Access to proper healthcare
– Getting the desired real estate
– Not being passed comments at
– Acceptance and respect
How can we do our part?
Changing the world starts at the single step of a single individual. As we change, the world changes. Here’s how we can contribute;
1. Use proper pronouns while addressing a trans person. It is always better to ask them what their chosen pronouns are. Please don’t assume someone is transgender unless they mention it or correct you. It is always best to use gender-neutral pronouns, plus it’s easier, so that’s a win-win.
2. Be kind. Of course, you do not force anyone into friendships. Respect them as you would any other person. Be a genuinely nice person to those who have consistently faced hardships in this stereotypical world. Fight for their rights. This will make you an ally and a better human.
3. Break stereotypical gender roles.
4. Understand that it is not necessary to know someone’s gender identity to respect them. Being respectful to people of every gender and ethnicity is a must. Just make sure we don’t humiliate or say something offensive.
5. Being considerate while talking to trans people. Make sure to remain respectful of privacy and not ask questions that might sound like intervening with someone’s private affairs. NEVER ask them about their dead names, whether they’ve had surgery and other invasive questions.
6. Don’t stop educating yourself about the transgender communities and speak in support of them.
7. Use the word transgender as an adjective. Say, “he is a transgender person” and not “he is a transgender” or “he is transgender-ed”. The latter is the wrong way to address. Remember it’s better to stay silent if one is unclear on what to say. Refer to them as they want you to, as a man, woman or non-binary.
8. Chose social media to raise awareness about trans people. You can write what are your pronouns so that trans people feel normalised when sharing their own.
9. Always choose to use gender-neutral terms. Instead of using words like “women hygiene products” or things like “only women menstruate”, use terms like “hygiene products” and “people/folks who menstruate”. This is because not all people with uteruses are always women.
‘INTERSECTIONALITY’ among transgender folks is an important aspect that must not be ignored. The oppression in these cases double and triple, and it is vital to wipe stereotypes away from our mind and fight for laws that will uplift those who fall into these categories.
Transgender people, like anyone of us, want to live a life without fearing discrimination and violence. They want to live like anyone else, a fulfilling, safe, regular, and healthy life. After years of struggle, many laws and policies have evolved in favour of the trans community, but they still have a long way to go in some sections.
This is in the hope that the world becomes a better place for people of all gender identities. Hope we have real leaders who are not based solely on their gender identities.
Support trans people! Help them thrive! (And pretty much everyone who deserves your support).
Happy Pride!!! <3