Carry Transgender Awareness Month into the rest of the year


Clarion Staff Photo

A display in the Truax Campus Gateway remembers those lost to transphobic violence.

Taleise Lawrence, Assistant Editor

November was Transgender Awareness Month and has been observed for the last 24 years. It started as just one day, titled Transgender Day of Remembrance. This was in response to the unsolved murder of Rita Hester in Massachusetts. Hester was a Black transgender woman. Since that day in 1998, the event has become bigger. It is now an entire month of remembrance, with over 200 cities observing it.
With 13 states signing bills that are anti-LGBTQ, it’s no surprise that anti-transgender killings spiked last year at a record-breaking 57. There were likely even more; the Human Rights Campaign suspects that the deaths are underreported, for reasons such as victims being misgendered or incorrectly identified.
Though this is certainly a national issue, it also affects us here in Wisconsin. In Milwaukee on June 15, 28-year-old Brazil Johnson was shot and killed. She studied culinary arts at Milwaukee Area Technical College, which is at the same conference as Madison College. We’re not as far removed here in Madison as people would like to believe.
Murder is not the only hardship the transgender community is facing. Transgender women also face a lack of access to health care, high rates of discrimination in employment and high rates of family rejection.
A couple of years ago, I was reflecting on the difficulties that the trans community faces. I decided to vent to my straight, cisgender and white teammate about it, and maybe together, we could figure out how we could help. When I told her that trans women of color are murdered are higher rates than cis white women, she didn’t even look up from her phone. I was shocked that someone could have so little empathy for others just because they weren’t part of that group.
So what can you do? These are a couple of suggestions that you can try. One is to read books and watch films made by transgender people. These can range from biographical to inspirational to even works in the fantasy genre. Educating yourself is a great way to show support, and you can find good works of art while doing it! Another thing you can do is join Madison College’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Joining a group can help create community, whether that is with people who are like you or are different from you.
If these ideas sound too time-consuming for a student, one super simple thing you can do is analyze the language you use in your everyday life. Do you refer to a group of people as guys? Do you assume the pronouns of someone you’ve never met? Maybe it’s time to reflect and question why you use certain terms. I’m not saying that phrases like “ladies and gentlemen” are evil, but it is important to recognize the prevalence of gendered language as the norm.
Transgender Awareness Month is a great time to remember those who lost their lives for being who they are, celebrate the people in your life who are transgender or nonbinary and reflect on ways we can all better ourselves in the future.