THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRANSGENDER PERSONS’ STORY

“Erasing the truth of transgender persons lives, even in death, is also a demoralizing blow to the community. Many of the victims’ identities were denied by their families, and many were misgendered by police and media”.

Celebration for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) ran across the globe with much fervor this May. IDAHOT is the main LGBTI-focused day marked by the international community. This year’s theme was “justice and protection for all.”

As we celebrate and take steps towards a more promising future sharing colorful smiling pictures on social media, we should also take a moment to note the grave realities that continue to stare at the transgender persons community around the world.

January saw the first transgender murder of 2019 in the US. Early this year, Japan made Sterilization of Transgender People mandatory. Despite an all-time high in trans-visibility, with celebrities, mainstream media stars and large corporate giants, violence against the community is getting worse, community advocates say.

Dana Martin was found dead in a ditch after a vehicle crash in Alabama. The 31-year-old Black transgender woman hadsuffered a fatal gunshot woundto the head, and since then, no arrests have been made in connection to the killing. One of the founders of the Miss Trans America pageant, is thought to be the first transgender person killed in 2018. According to a CNN report, more than two dozen transgender people were killed last year in the US. By a human right’s group calculations, there have been 128 killings of transgender people in 87 cities since 2013. Most victims were shot, some were stabbed, a few were set on fire while they were still in them and others, beaten to death. Erasing the truth of transgender persons lives, even in death, is also a demoralizing blow to the community. Many of the victims’ identities were denied by their families, and many were misgendered by police and media.

That detention center of the US has become notorious for its alleged mistreatment of transgender people. Advocates report that transgender people face injury, abuse, and neglect in the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.

In Malaysia, sharia law makes it explicitly illegal for “a man to dress or act like a woman.” As a result,  a Malaysian transgender woman wearing women’s clothing was sentenced to 3 months in a men’s prison, where she was assaulted by a prison director along with other inmates. In Philippines,  between 2008-2016, 41 trans people were murdered, making the place one of the highest rates of murder and violence against trans people in southeast Asia.

India’s honour culture is the prime culprit behind engendering violence towards trangender persons. The heavy sense of duty for all individuals to maintain family honour influences attitudes towards homo and transphobic honour abuse.

Safe access to public spaces is important.  Transgender persons continue to face rejection, humiliation, discrimination at places such as a restaurant, hospital, workplace, shelter, library, temple. When followed or hounded and one cannot enter any of these public spaces out of fear, the risk of violence increases. If transgender persons cannot find stable work and accommodation, and are forced to participate in criminalized trades like the drug or sexwork to survive, then the risk of violence escalates.

People who live at the intersection of multiple identities, face violence that is often flamed by multiple prejudices of transphobia, misogyny and racism. Marriage is not by any stretch of the imagination a barometer of progress for the majority of queer and transgender people.

We have this incredible pivotal moment of media visibility with pop culture, but it is also time for education and a deeper learning about the transgender community. Only then can we have justice and protection for all.