Injustice at Every Turn

BY Advocate Contributors

February 04 2011 12:30 PM ET

When I was a young person living in Washington, D.C., in 1995, a well-known local hairstylist was driving home one night and her car hit a tree. Paramedics rushed to the scene and cut off her clothes in an attempt to provide lifesaving medical care.

When they saw that Tyra Hunter was transgender, the medic swore at Ms. Hunter and stopped all medical treatment.

Stopped all medical treatment.

Tyra Hunter died later that night, and today, the discrimination and abuse that caused Tyra Hunter’s entirely preventable death are still firmly in place. I could not help but think of Tyra when I read the following comments that are part of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality’s just-released report, "Injustice at Every Turn."

“The fear of being the victim of a hate crime has also meant that I haven't lived completely freely; I know that if people on the street knew that I was born female, I'd be at risk of violence or harassment.”

“People are suffering in my school. There are so many trans kids that just can't come out because they are afraid.”

“I have been harassed and physically assaulted on the street. One time, I didn't go to the hospital until I went home, changed [out of feminine] clothes, and then went to the emergency room in male mode. I had a broken collarbone as a result of that attack.”

These are the words of transgender and gender-nonconforming Americans, and sadly, their experiences are not uncommon. The hunger to be visible, to share experiences of harm and resiliency is notable, as this became the largest ever study of its kind. A total of 6,500 transgender and gender-nonconforming people from all 50 states and several territories shared with us their experiences of discrimination.

The data we collected was shocking. I know firsthand, from my friends and my work at the Task Force, that discrimination remains a tragic fact of life for far too many in our community. I know that if we do not act in stereotypical “male” or “female” ways, many take this nonconformity as an open invitation to harass or act violently toward us.















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