When it comes to celebrating the LGBTQ community, events don’t come much bigger the Pride over summer. Pride’s such an epic time to recognise the amazing individuals and achievements within the community, to reflect on how far we’ve come, and look at improvements that need to be made. However, Pride isn’t the only time of the year to shine a spotlight on the LGBTQ community, and Trans Awareness Week is especially vital in the UK in highlighting the experiences of trans and non-binary people.
Trans Awareness Week begins on Nov. 20 with International Transgender Day of Remembrance. As its name suggests, this is a day to honour the trans and gender-non-conforming people who have lost their lives to transphobic attacks. “I think one thing that regularly gets lost in coverage of Transgender Day of Remembrance is that the majority of the victims are trans women of colour and that a number are sex workers,” says campaigner Ashleigh Talbot, “this puts anti-trans violence at the intersection of misogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia. It's not an isolated problem and I don't think we should overlook this even as we grieve.”
Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in the U.S. back in 1998, but it’s as pertinent in 2019 as ever. Stonewall’s Trans Engagement Manager Toryn Glavin explains that, while it may feel like we’ve made so much progress in the UK, for trans and non-binary people, discrimination and the threat of violence is still an all too common occurrence. "In recent years we’ve started to see change and more trans people have been able to live as who they are," Glavin says. "But that’s still very new. As a result a lot of people haven’t met trans people and if they have they don’t know they have."
“There’s so much education and work to be done so people understand. Unfortunately centuries of misinformation and lies about trans people means there’s a lot of narratives to undo.”
According to statistics gathered by Stonewall, 41% of trans people and 31% of non-binary people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last year alone. The BBC revealed that the number of transgender hate crimes recorded by police forces in England, Scotland, and Wales has risen by 81% according to latest findings. Stonewall also said that 28% of trans people in a relationship have experienced domestic abuse at the hands of their partner in the last year and 12% have been physically attacked by colleagues or customers in the last year.
Stonewall also revealed that almost half of trans people (48%) don’t feel comfortable using public toilets and 40% adjust the way they dress because they fear discrimination or harassment. This number increases significantly to more than half of non-binary people (52%).
Trans advocate and host of The Sarah O’Connell Show on Youtube Sarah O’Connell explains that Trans Awareness Week is important because it raises "awareness for the real struggles and discrimination faced by trans people every day." O’Connell continues: "Trans people are often purposely misrepresented in the media, not given a voice to speak for themselves and share their truth. Fear-mongering leads to discrimination, bullying and violence."
If you want to celebrate Trans Awareness Week, there’s a number of things you can do. Giving to charities that support trans and non-binary individuals such as Mermaids and The Kaleidoscope Trust is a great start. Similarly, supporting trans and non binary campaigners (by following them on social media, reading and sharing their work, and supporting causes they speak about) does a great deal for raising the profile of trans issues. But, most importantly, O’Connell says, you should “be a trans ally every single day, and call out transphobia wherever you see it.”