On Transgender People of Color

The People’s Caucus of Color has released a statement regarding the representation of Transgender People of Color.  Akua Asare-Konadu, the chair, can be reached at akua.asare-konadu@ydwa.org for additional comments.

Basics

Though there are many individual perspectives on Gender Identity the aim of this statement is to focus on representation of Trans People of Color (POC).  A good definition on what exactly is meant by Trans can be found at Basic Rights Oregon:

“Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate. Gender identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or someone outside of that gender binary). For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.”

Popular Representation

Prominent images front and center today of Trans folk are Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox or Janet Mock.  Representation has made some gains but behind a handful of publically recognized figures and activists are scores of demeaning fictional characters. Perhaps folks were first familiar with the concept of Trans Identity through less well-rounded and positive depictions of fictional characters that are usually sex workers and used as a punchline.

Exploitation

The stereotypical picture of Trans folk as sex workers is disturbing in conjunction to statistics on rape and sexual assault against Trans folk. According to a research study published by the University of Hawai’i (Stotzer)  66% of Trans people have seen or experienced a violent sexual assault and 23% of Trans people have no only been violently sexually assaulted but they have been assaulted an average of five times. Most of the assaults happened during adolescence or young adult years.  

It gets worse

As with all other crimes against marginalized populations, violence against Trans folks is far more likely to happen if they are PoC. Rates of suicide among Trans youth is staggeringly high. According to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program about 10% of high school students attempt suicide. Trans students are five times as likely to attempt suicide than average. As you may have guessed, this percentage just gets even more heart-wrenching with Trans PoC.

Healthcare Crisis

Trans folk face sobering obstacles to medical care. Discrimination not only makes hormone therapy impossible in many locations, but even Trans folk that need something as simple as a checkup are often refused service by medical health professionals. This leads to many in the Trans community dying of treatable illnesses! (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2011)

YDWA supports the representation of all people of color and all who identify as transgender. The YDWA PCoC helps us to understand the importance of the intersection of these identities.