Violence Against Transgender and Transsexual People

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”.


5 Replies to “Violence Against Transgender and Transsexual People”

  1. Talia, I have to interject on one specific point.

    “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.”

    That’s an absolute fallacy, hon. Not that lesbians get raped, but that a simple joke makes it occur. It’s not even an attitude (in whole, anyway). A rapist is a rapist, even before they’ve committed an actual rape. They have no respect for their victims, be they women, children, and of course, even men. This is the only thing rapists have in common – they don’t regard sexuality as belonging to someone else.

    I don’t believe that any man inclined to rape a lesbian would be any less likely to rape a straight woman, it’s all a matter of circumstances and what happens to trigger that particular rapist to make the move they did.

    • Very true, Katie, and I should have edited more before clicking “publish”. I have met a couple of people whose attitude clearly indicated that they would do it to make a lesbian straight, whether they ended up doing it or not, I don’t know.

      There seems to be a lower level of respect for lesbian women, transgender transsexual women that makes it ‘okay’ to victimize them. An attitude I have witnessed.

  2. Very well put – and I think it definitely does bear repeating that the “T” in the LGBT acronym bear more than the average level of abuse and ignorance – and often from within as well as without.

    And thank you for your kind link to my post.

  3. One of the ongoing problems of violence against LGBT folk is the amount of apologists who cater to it as well. Having worked as a data entry clerk for an organization that did interventions against homophobia, I’ve seen my fair share of “what people really think” when they can be under the guise of anonymity and they tend to find all sorts of excuses to self-apologise themselves out of the guilt of the act. The brainwashing some kids still receive is absolutely horrible, and enough that some people clearly make threats of murder and the likes.

    Moreso even is how so many people apologize themselves out of psychological violence and aggression by thinking “oh I never hurt a gay/trans person, but…” and then proceed to say some of the most foul, bigoted things I have ever heard, as if the exclusion of a physical assault makes it more acceptable to trash a person verbally.

    And then you have those in denial – some LGBT folk try to pretend the violence doesn’t exist anymore. We’ve made a lot of headway in Canada, but still have a long way to go… but these people take a step back and try to ignore it all and not get involved. Such as a particularly troubling call to “GRIS Montreal” where some rich gay dude (self-identified as such) called in to say “Pfft, we got rid of homophobia 30 years ago!”, while the staff have papers on their desks from students who clearly say they’d beat up what they perceive to be a gay peer if they “get too close”.

    The battle against ignorance rages on…~

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