Why We Need to Continue The Fight for Transgender Rights

photograph by Ted Eytan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/taedc/17793198042) CC 2.0 license

BY EDGAR SHAFER

Over the past five years, the United States has slowly begun to improve civil rights for members of the transgender and gender variant community;  after all, around 1 in every 137 teens identify as transgender and young people are becoming more accepting of their transgender peers. However, despite these improvements in human rights, the issue of transgender equality is not completely resolved. Recently, the Trump administration withdrew the Obama-era Title IX protection for transgender students that allowed them to use their preferred restroom. The withdrawal left many transgender students feeling “heartbroken” about the actions of the new administration and what this will mean for transgender rights.

Unfortunately, the problem regarding transgender protection goes beyond the bathroom stall. According to a survey from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, around 41% of transgender people in the United States have attempted suicide, compared to only 1.6% of the general population Furthermore, violent crimes against transgender people have increased “by 13%” in the past year, resulting in the violent murders of eight transgender women of color in the first three months of 2017 alone.

Despite these statistics, the Trump administration appears to have no plans in regards to improving transgender civil rights, with Attorney General Sessions describing Obama’s former efforts as a “political agenda for radical social change.”  As a result, transgender people across the nation fear that they “won’t be able to work, or access healthcare, or get travel documents updated,” says Greta Martela, founder of the Trans Lifeline, a national hotline for transgender people in crisis that has seen an increase in calls since Trump’s presidency.

Although President Trump himself has seldom referred to the transgender community since running for office, many of his fellow GOP members and supporters of the ‘bathroom bills’ argue that transgender individuals must use separate restroom facilities in fear of “sexual predators” taking advantage of anti-discrimination laws. Along with these claims being blatantly false (anti-discrimination laws have been in place for years, with no evidence of attacks in bathrooms committed by a transgender person), both the Trump administration and the GOP as a whole are recycling the same pro-discrimination arguments that have been used throughout American history. Forcing transgender people to use separate restrooms is eerily similar to Jim Crow and other segregation laws, which are now considered one of the biggest embarrassments in American history.

By denying basic human rights to the transgender community, the Trump administration has once again shifted America towards the bigoted side of history, which proves that this fight for transgender rights is not over. We, as a united nation, must learn from our mistakes and continue to advocate for justice for all, no matter their gender identity.