Injustice at Every Turn
BY Advocate Contributors
February 04 2011 12:30 PM ET
Even with all I have seen over the years, the picture coming out of our
study is deeply disturbing. Transgender individuals live in poverty at
nearly four times the national rate. They are twice as likely to be
unemployed. Over 25% reported that they had lost a job due to their
transgender identity. They are twice as likely to be homeless, four
times more likely to be HIV-positive, and perhaps most appallingly, 41%
have attempted suicide, more than 26 times the rate (1.6%) of the
These are not problems that any of us who
identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or civil
rights-minded, progressive, or feminist can afford to ignore.
of color consistently experienced the greatest degree of
discrimination, especially African-Americans. They had four times the
unemployment rate of the nation, and had over 40 times the general
population rate of HIV infection.
This must stop. Let us all
make this the moment that the civil rights, progressive, feminist, and
LGBT rights movements wake up and change the way we do our work. No
longer can the needs of transgender and gender-variant people in our
society, in our organizations, and in our communities be pushed to the
side. It is literally killing people and we must work together to stop
While great strides have been made for equality in the last
several decades, most recently with the powerful repeal of the “don’t
ask, don’t tell” policy, the last letter in “LGBT” has simply not seen
the same progress. Indeed, the successful repeal of DADT will still not
allow out transgender people to serve in the military.
even some members of the lesbian, gay and bisexual community turn our
backs on transgender people. And yet our struggle is one that is
shared. Each of us has a gender identity and gender expression. and those
of us who diverge from the norm are subject to the same discrimination.
Feminine gay men and masculine or androgynous lesbians are far more
likely to be discriminated against than gay men and lesbians whose
behavior and appearance conforms more to societal norms about how men
and women “should” act. Simply by being gay, lesbian, or bisexual, we
are breaking society’s rules about what it means to be a man or woman.
people face this same prejudice, yet taken to the life-threatening
extreme. This is about all of us. For those who do not think so, I hope
this information will be a wake-up call and an opportunity to examine
their feelings and yes, biases, that prevent our community from uniting
in the ways we must to achieve equal treatment for all of us.
report is a clarion call to all of us, and its findings cannot be
ignored. We must stand against all forms of discrimination and end
injustice for all LGBT people, wherever it exists. Together, we can
eliminate this prejudice and work toward a society where we are all
truly free to be who we are. There is a role for each of us in
reckoning with the pervasive inhumanity we’ve documented in this report.