The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released an infographic highlighting the danger of violence for queer youth, pictured below.The infographic and the CDC’s research, specifically highlights lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, but conveniently leaves out trans youth. The acronym “LGBT” is commonly acceptable way to address the queer community, so the removal of “T” (trans) can’t be an oversight. It’s a conscious and deliberate omission of the trans community’s existence and history of facing extreme violence.
In a follow-up, the CDC said, in a Facebook post, it did not include trans people because it “[did] not have a question to identify them”. This is referring to the research that took place to identify the violence against these communities; there was no question to identify them. “The challenge is developing a credible gender identity question”, the post says. Seeing as it’s the Center for Disease Control, you’d assume that they’re used to identifying challenges and overcoming them. Apparently trans people are just too darn confusing to develop a question for.
While the details of the research and the composition of the questions aren’t clear, it’s hard to imagine that a simple question couldn’t have sufficed. “Do you identify as trans?” would have overcame this “challenge” with ease. Again, the details are unclear, so maybe the questions weren’t so straightforward and had more intricacies, but it’s not impossible to have a question to that identifies trans people.
The CDC’s exclusion of trans people from this research about violence is actually violence. It’s the same violence that trans people face daily in media, schools, work, and many more facets of life. The CDC could have learned that if it bothered to, at the very least, tried to create a question that identified trans people.
There’s a long and tired history of trans people being excluded from communities and spaces that are supposed to include them. The CDC had one foot out the door during this research, and ended up committing the violence that it sought to draw attention to. In a weird turn of events, it accomplished its goal by showing how allies can be violent towards queer people without even knowing.
Simply put, the CDC was too lazy to overcome its own challenges to do proper research. It’s an unprofessional and shameful display of ignorance, from an attempt of allyship. This should be a warning to other allies who can’t be bothered to do the work.