Rolling in to November, many of us may be thinking about Transgender Awareness week which brings us to Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20th. This starts the week of November 13th and it's meant to raise awareness to the existence of trans-identifying individuals, their struggles and their achievements.
What Is Transgender Awareness Week?
Transgender Awareness Week is observed from November 13th to November 19th and leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance.
This week in November is used by the transgender community, and allies, to educate and raise awareness about trans-identifying people, the issues they face and to give a voice to those who can't speak.
Throughout this week, many people share their personal experiences, good and bad, with the public. It's not always an easy thing to do, but every story makes an impact and helps show the world that being transgender doesn't make you any less of a human being.
Some of us may already know this, but not all trans-identifying people are "visible". By "visible" I mean out and open to the public. This decision may be a personal choice by some, but in some cases there might not even be a choice.
To this day the world is slowly evolving and learning to love trans people more and more but it would be wrong to ignore the fact that there has still been a lot of hate towards this community over the years.
A not-so-fun fact, it wasn't even until 2014 that the Affordable Care Act expanded gender affirming health care coverage for trans-identifying individuals in the United States.
Bullying, harassment and discrimination are just a few of the manyexamples of what trans people experience every. single. day.
Due to lack of public acceptance, trans people are more likely to experience mental, physical or sexual abuse, homelessness, unemployment and violence in their lifetimes. In a 2019 survey of 25,000 trans people, nearly 50% of them reported being sexually assaulted due to their identity.
Someone living authentically as themselves should never make them a target.
Having open and healthy conversations about things like this with the people you care about can help create a safer future for ourselves and generations to come. It might not be an easy, happy or even popular topic, but it's worth talking about if you're able to.
Transgender people are people and have been around since the beginning of time.
We deserve to live out in the open without fear and to have our voices heard.
We are doctors, we are teachers, we are fighters, we are writers, we are kids, we are adults.
We are human.
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Following Transgender Awareness Week, we have Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th.
This day was founded by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith and was first observed in remembrance of Rita Hester, a transgender woman whose life was lost to senseless violence in 1998.
This vigil for Rita marked the very first Transgender Day of Remembrance in the United States and since then has been used to remember all of those lost to violence throughout the years for simply existing as themselves and being transgender.
Local LGBTQ+ advocates and clubs will often hold vigils at community centers, parks, places of worship and plenty of other venues around the country. Check around your local area!
So many valuable trans lives have been cut short throughout the years but that doesn't mean it's completely impossible for us to live a happy, "normal" life.
Living a happy and "normal" life doesn't necessarily mean a perfect or easy life, either. Everyone faces their own challenges.
We're used to hearing about heartbreaking tragedies and sometimes we may forget that happy endings do still exist, even if you're trans.
It will always be important to remember the extraordinary lives that have been lost this year and years prior. In 2022 alone, 32 trans lives have been taken from this world by senseless acts of violence and over half of them were trans women of color. Racism, sexism and transphobia are deadly and have no place in our world. If you would like to learn more about the brave and loving lives we have lost in 2022, here's a link.
Even though so many trans lives have been lost to anti-trans violence, that doesn't mean every trans life has to end that way. We all deserve a chance at a happy and full life.
In the positive spirit of Transgender Awareness, let's take a look at a few inspiring lives we may not know about.
Transgender people have always existed throughout history and have lived, and are still currently living, happy and successful lives.
When I was browsing good ol' Wikipedia I learned about so many different trans people, all the way from the 1800s to now, and it was very difficult to only select a few.
I hope some of you can find comfort in knowing that these people are living, or have lived, "normal" and successful lives.
Reading about some of these people helped me, and maybe it'll help you, realize that I'm becoming exactly who I'm supposed to become.
And that our lives don't always have to end in a tragedy.
Rebecca Anne "Becky" Allison
Born December 21, 1946
Dr. Becky Allison is a wildly successful Cardiologist that has also done her fair share of activism in life.
Becky served as the President of the Gay and Lesbian Medical association. She also served as Chair of the American Medical Association's Advisory Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues.
She was also blessed and talented enough to secure a place on the "Top Doctors" list in Phoenix Magazine for three consecutive years, 2007-09.
Becky is also a proud member of the church and believer in God and helps assure other religious transgender people that God loves us for exactly who we are. Sometimes being a member of the church can be difficult when you are trans, young or old, and unfortunately not everyone is accepting and loving about it. But people like Dr. Becky are extremely special and truly let people know they are not alone with their feelings.
As if she could be anymore incredible, Becky is also active in Soulforce and organized the annual Phoenix Transgender Day of Remembrance with her partner.
A friend named Lee Frances Heller, who was extremely helpful in the spiritual part of Becky's journey, published a newsletter called "Grace and Lace" that was widely circulated among transgender Christians, once again assuring that God loves you for exactly who you are. Beginning in 1992, Becky has been a contributor to this newsletter and publishes two essays a year in support.
There is so so so much more to write about Becky, like her continuous effort to provide resources for trans people, but if you would like to find out for yourself, here are a couple links that'll blow you away.
Patricio Manuel is a professional featherweight boxer who debuted in 2018 in a match against Hugo Aguilar.
He is thevery first transgender boxer in the history of the United States to have an official ranked professional match.
And he won! Making his professional record 1-0, undefeated.
In September of 2019, Everlast boxing actually took notice of his talent and he became one of the new faces for their training equipment!
Before his professional debut, Patricio only fought in three amateur fights prior to going pro and this is partially to competitors refusing to even get into the ring with him due to his transition. Jokes on them though, he would've beat them anyways.
Prior to his transition, Patricio was a five-time USA national amateur boxing champion, so lack of talent was never the issue.
Boxing aside, in 2019 he joined Dr. Harry Edwards, other trans athletes, supportive groups and the San Francisco 49ers at Levi Stadium for "Words to Action" day for LGBTQ+ activism in sports.
Patricio claims that without sports, he wouldn't know who he is and urged everyone to fight with the LGBTQ+ community to make a place for us in sports and the world.
As someone who loves staying active and dabbling in at home boxing and kickboxing, Patricio is someone I look up to and get inspired by.
If you want to read a little more about this inspiring guy, here are a couple links.
Ben Barres was a neurobiologist at Stanford University and primarily studied neurons and glial cells in the nervous system.
He studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth and even obtained a PhD in neurobiology at Harvard. He also completed his residency at Weill Cornell Medicine which is where he started looking into neurodegeneration and found interest in neurobiology.
In 2008, he was appointed to the Chair of Neurobiology in Stanford and was also the first openly trangender scientist in the National Academy of Sciences in 2013.
Impressive science and studies aside, Ben also published on sexism in the sciences. He was a scientist prior to transitioning as well as after and noticed that he received more respect from fellow scientists who were unaware that he transitioned.
He spoke and wrote openly about being a trans man, gender identity and his experience transitioning to help bring awareness and make an impact on science and the world. Before his passing, he made it clear that he lived an incredible life with no regrets.
He won many awards including, but not limited to, the Life Sciences Research Fellowship, Kaiser Award for Innovative and Outstanding Contributions to Medical Education and the Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also a co-founder of Annexon Biosciences, Inc., a company making drugs to block neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases.
If you want to learn more about this crazy smart man and his life, here's a link.
Miss Major is a trans woman, activist and community leader for transgender rights.
She was actually one of the leaders in the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City.
Miss Major came out as a trans woman in the late 1950's which means she was a target of criticism and poor treatment.
She unfortunately suffered from homelessness for many years and had to rely on the black market to obtain hormones for her transition.
Miss Major served as the original Executive Director for the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project which was founded by trans man Alex Lee. The focus of this non profit is to assist transgender, intersex, and gender-variant people, particularly trans women of color, who are incarcerated in California prisons and detention centers.
More often than not, trans people are incarcerated at prisons aligning with the sex they were assigned at birth.
In 2015, a documentary titled Major! was released and shined a light on the work Miss Major has done and continues to do for her community as an activist and mentor.
Miss Major wishes for equal human rights for trans youth and once said, "I'd like for the girls to get a chance to be who they are. For young transgender people to go to school, learn like everyone else does, and then get out there and live their lives, not afraid or thinking that the only solution for them is death."
There is so much more to Miss Major and she has basically dedicated her entire life to activism for the transgender community. People like her give a voice to people who aren't able to use their own voice and it's inspiring to say the least.
To learn more about this courageous and selfless woman, here's a link.
Whether you are trans, non-binary or a loving ally, it is always important to know that you are not alone and where you can find help.
Even when it feels like you're alone, you aren't.
If your loved one is trans, this is a great time to reach out and tell them that you love and support them.
Whether it's because someone is unsure of how to express their support or maybe they don't fully understand what being transgender means, this can be a difficult topic to bring up for some people and families as a whole.
But I encourage and challenge you to bring it up and let them know that you see them and that they are valid. And if you do have questions, that's okay. Just be respectful. Supporting them can be as simple as using a different pronoun or name when you refer to them.
Not everyone is going to be open about the challenges, hate or discrimination they may face in their daily life because of being openly trans. These issues can happen in the workplace, eating out at a restaurant or even at home.
Or even online where you can't get away. Looking at you TikTok trolls!
Just because youdon't see or experience it for yourself does not mean it doesn't happen every day for someone else.
So if someone ever tells you about a hateful experience they had, you should probably believe them. Sometimes no matter how good or nice you are, people can still be cruel.
The bullying, discrimination and hate that trans people experience is not a joke and can create very hostile and scary environments. No one should be scared to use a public restroom and no one should have to live in fear that their rights will be taken away. But even in 2022, we are and we do.
So simply acknowledging that someone, especially a loved one, is transgender and expressing your support to them can move mountains.
Sometimes, it's all someone needs to keep going.
But unfortunately, not everyone has access to a healthy support system at home, but there's a massive online community waiting with open arms to shower you with well-deserved love.
There are a ton of places you can reach out to for help and more information, way more than I can count, but here are few to start.
If nothing else, I hope at least one of you has learned about something, or someone, new.
Life isn't always full of rainbows, butterflies and kittens, but the more time we spend loving one another and having tough conversations, the closer we get to having exactly that.
More rainbows, more butterflies, more kittens and extra glitter.
Trans people have always been around and we aren't going anywhere.
Until next time,
You are loved and it gets better.
Talk to you soon,
Welcome to the cool kids club!
My name is Jamie and I'm a young (ish) transman born and raised in the Hudson Valley of New York state. I started my transition in May of 2017 and since then, I've made it my mission to live unapologetically as myself and spread awareness through my pursuit of happiness. I am the creator and writer of Spilling T blog, a proud affiliate of TransTape and when I'm not outside with the best dog ever or hanging out with my two cats, I make and sell my own beard care products through Buckaroo's Beard Care. I'm always looking for my next adventure and have been skydiving, road-tripping, hiking in the mountains and even served for a short time in the United States Marine Corps. My life has had its fair share of twists and turns and I hope to use those experiences to create helpful and relatable content that may help someone else navigate a difficult time in life.
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