If the only form of social activism you partake in is supporting same sex marriage with a deliberate refusal to uplift our transgender citizens, you are not an avid supporter of the LGBTQ+ community; you are a supporter of hypocrisy and injustice. Patronage to the community as a whole entails an equal amount of encouragement and acceptance for all members as opposed to merely welcoming in a small quarter that satisfies to one’s liking. LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bi, transgender and queer, not just lesbian and gay. Transgender lives are actively in danger and this treacherous fact must be acknowledged; actions necessitate being taken in order to help rather than harm these innocent lives. There is no difference between supporting the gay community and the transgender community; both forms of acknowledgement require a sense of compassion that promote the sacred value of actively protecting and respecting basic human rights for all. In this instance, why should only one group be given an exclusive privilege? While no member of the LGBTQ+ community is ever safe from the harms of society and disapproving family members, the rate of tolerance for transgender youths is exceedingly lower than any other group.
Kristy Ramirez has openly shared her story of being a transgender female in the work industry as an opportunity to raise her voice and offer a beacon of hope and support to the community. Years before her job at El Pollo Loco jump started, she remained homeless while facing a brutal influx of rejections from every job she applied to due to discrimination against her gender, until she was finally offered a position at a fast food joint under the condition that she had to use the men’s bathroom despite her female identification. After being sexually harassed in the men’s room Kristy was granted permission to utilize the women’s bathroom until a customer complained and ending up landing Kristy a formal termination from her job; however, she was hired once again and is now happily working at El Pollo Loco with support from the business’s regular customers. Unfortunately, Kristy’s story is a far too familiar tale for many who have undergone even worse conditions such as having to turn to prostitution as a way to escape living on the streets.
A heartbreaking total of 1.6-2 million transgender individuals are homeless as a result of the horrific domino effect of a shockingly significant lack of empathy towards human rights in this progressive era. Unsurprisingly, the legal system favors the rights of everybody except transgender people by refusing to list them as a protected class, meaning they are not legally protected from discrimination as other minorities are. Although the Equal Opportunity Commission took place in 2012 to protect transgender individuals against sex discrimination, pursuing claims is a time-consuming and fervent process, and that’s only if one is able to afford to pay for a lawyer willing to fight for their rights. In a society where one is rejected from every form of employment despite a high education level, how could paying the hefty fee for a lawyer deem itself as a considerable option? On the flip-side of the coin, even if one were to obtain a job, the rate of harassment in the workplace for transgender individuals is a whopping 90%, as mentioned in Kristy’s video. The media’s representation of transgender women is beautifully showcased through affluent celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, but it fails to reveal the real story of transgender people who are not famous and continue to live in poverty without an accurate voice to portray their harsh realities of survival. This creates a facade of contentment and peace blanketed around the thoughts of many who choose to believe the transgender people in the community live with this type of privilege seen in celebrities when the reality is that many are not even able to afford the proper medical care to undergo safe treatments during their transition.
These individuals are human beings and have done nothing to be treated like criminals or animals for that matter; their voices are silenced due to their lack of privilege, use your privilege to make a difference.
Use your voice to empower the nation by taking action instead of being silent. Be an advocate for gender neutral bathrooms to protect those who are sexually harassed and/or raped on a daily basis in a place meant for privacy. Respect your peers’ pronouns when they come to you with their full trust and need for support. Challenge crude remarks made towards the transgender community, especially remarks made by those in the LGB community. Lend an open hand of support and unity as we are all human beings who should grasp the concept of appreciating the differences of others; no two humans are alike and that’s what makes the Earth a unique and beautiful land to live on.
If you are a struggling transgender individual facing a lack of support, know that I stand with you and will utilize my privilege to advocate for your rights. Although the world around you may seem to stand against your identity, there are millions of individuals who admire your bravery, as do I, and are standing with open arms to welcome you into the world with safety and reassurance.