Please note that this post contains some coarse language in context of discussing the issue of violence. I will also be talking about violence which some may find disturbing.
I started working on this post back in September, and since I first setup the draft post a few things have happened that influenced the post.
One risk that faces all who fall under the umbrella of LGBTQ is that of violence. Gay men are still beaten up in places for being gay. Some men ‘joke’ that all a lesbian needs is to “have a good fuck” and she would be made straight, an attitude that can and does lead some men to rape lesbians. Transsexual and transgender people, however, face a disproportionate risk of violence.
In Washington DC there has been a wave of violence against people who are transgender. One of the more famous incidents happened in Maryland when a young transgender woman (how she is identified in articles) was beaten for trying to use the ladies washroom in a McDonalds. Her attacker pleaded guilty and was sentenced in September. The trouble is that these are only the attacks that get reported and generate media attention.
The Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey in the USA reports that
Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (78%), physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%); harassment was so severe that it led almost one-sixth (15%) to leave a school in K-12 settings or in higher education.
(page 3 Executive Summary)
This report’s results are a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go when it comes to violence and discrimination against transgender and transsexual individuals.
Here in Canada we like to think of ourselves as progressive and beyond the violence that happens against people who fall under the LGBT umbrella. Last week in Ottawa there was a stark reminder that it does happen in Canada, and we’re still waiting for it to get better. Jamie Hubley was a victim of bullying at his high school and was driven to killing himself last week. An excellent response to this preventable tragedy is Nathan Burgoine’s blog post It Gets Better Takes too Damn Long. It is long past time that Canadians wake up and say, “no more, this is not what Canada is about.”
Let’s all work to change things so that “It Gets Better” becomes “It IS better”.