Reaction to a Social Justice Issue
“Forty-one percent of transgender people surveyed in Injustice at Every Turn said they had attempted suicide, compared with 1.6 percent of the general population” (Paquette). When researching the social justice issue presented to transgender people, I found a lot of horrifying statistics like this one. I knew that as a nation Americas transgendered people were still not fully accepted into American society, but I never fully understood to what degree. Transgender people are exactly that, people. Other than identifying with a different gender than born with, they are just the same as every other person, but unfortunately not treated like so. There are various root causes to this social injustice and I have a few solutions to help make transgenders fully accepted in today’s society.
To begin with, transgender people are typically not thought of as the cultural norm and suffer greatly from this. Not only do transgender people have significantly higher suicide rates, they also have higher rates of incarceration. “Though gay and transgender youth represent just 5 to 7 percent of the nation’s overall youth population, they compose 13 to 15 percent of those currently in the juvenile justice system” (Hunt). Transgender people are also treated much differently than “normal” people. When dealing with employment, it has been found that 90 percent of transgenders have experienced some type of discrimination in the work place and 25 percent of transgenders have reported loosing their job because they did not “conform to gender norms” (Paquette). Also, transgender people still can not technically serve in the military. While some transgender people do serve in the military, they can be kicked-out or rejected if they have evidence of genital surgery (Paquette). These are all unfair problems and challenges that transgender people face on a daily basis, all because they identify with a different gender than on their birth certificate.
There are clearly many injustices that transgenders must deal with, but where do they all come from? I believe the biggest root cause of transgender social justice comes from every individual person and how they were raised as a child. Generally speaking, older people tend to have more issues with transgender people than young people. This is because older generations grew up in a time where transgender people were either less common or almost non-existent. It is this older generation, parents from my generation, that influence how we see and judge transgender people. The reason the rate of gay and transgender youth in jail is so high is because of family conflict, child abuse, and homelessness. Recently, transgender youth typically tend to “come out” at a younger age than before. At this age, they still rely on their parents for support, so it is when their parents and family reject them as transgender do we see high homelessness rates. In fact, “gay and transgender youth represent up to 40 percent of the homeless youth population” (Hunt).
Not only do transgender youth report problems at home, there are also many problems reported that occur while at school; “84 percent of gay and transgender students report being verbally harassed, 40 percent physically harassed, and 19 percent physically assaulted” (Hunt). When I think back to my time in secondary school education I can’t remember a time when I witnessed someone being bullied, especially not a transgender student. I guess it goes back to when we talked in class about being privileged, and not always knowing how privileged we are. When I was in school I might have been called a couple names here and there, but I was fortunate enough to never have been bullied on a day to day basis. I was privileged in the fact that I never had to worry about been made fun of for just being who I am. I was also privileged to go to a school and be in classrooms with low bullying rates. Unfortunately transgender youth do not have the same privileges as I did. After being bullied on a day to day basis, one third of those who did report bullying offenses to their school’s administrated staff found that nothing was done about the problem. Because of this, many bullied transgendered students do not report their incidents, as they either believe nothing will result of it or because they don’t want the bullying to get any worse (Hunt). This problem again comes from individual people and how they were raised. The school’s administrative staff tends to be an older generation and therefore has negative views toward transgender people. This also impacts students that go to that school, sending them the message that it’s ok to bullying transgender students because they can get away with it.
So how can we fix this social injustice? One person that deals with social injustices like this on a daily basis is Laura Coates. Laura is an attorney who travels around the world fighting for peoples basic rights. While reading about Laura Coates I learned about her three tips on how I can raise my voice for justice that closely relates back to the five practices of exemplary leadership. Laura’s first tip is to “Discover the Leader Within.” This resonates closely with the first practice of exemplary leadership as in this step “Laura is modeling the way.” Laura’s next tip is to “let your voice be heard.” In this tip she discusses speaking up and speaking out to others, much like the “inspired a shared vision” step in the the five practices of exemplary leadership. While throughout all of this Laura is challenging the process, the next thing she does is “enable others to act.” Laura’s third and final tip is to “make a difference.” Her best advice for us to make a difference is to “care enough about a problem to offer a solution” (Tyner). After reading about and discovering all of the ways transgender people are mistreated, I have found myself more caring towards them and can hopefully help spread their word of injustice.
Transgender people are mistreated and discriminated against on a daily basis. To help fight against this social injustice I became of the UCF cares ambassador team this semester. As an ambassador, it is part of my job to spread the word of care around campus. It is our job to make sure that everyone feels cared for an accepted while attending school. As care ambassadors we also work together with the LGBT community on campus to raise awareness and provide safe places for students to go. I believe that as we continue to spread the word about transgender people society will eventually start to understand that they are just people like everyone else. If we all continue to spread awareness about this social justice issue will one day be considered part of the “cultural norm” to be transgender.
In conclusion, transgender people are faced with a great social injustice in society. They are treated unfairly and are discriminated against just for simply being themselves. Transgender people deserve the same privileges as others and deserve to be accepted in today’s society. As we continue to spread the word about transgender people they will eventually be accepted in today’s society with hopefully no discrimination against them.