Transgender Awareness Week: Understanding Unique Challenges Faced By The Trans Community

By Fenway Focus:

Posted on November 12, 2012

November 12–19, 2012 is Transgender Awareness Week.

Transgender Awareness Week (TAW) is a series of statewide events and educational opportunities to inform people about the trans community and raise awareness of issues facing trans and gender noncomforming people in Massachusetts.

Transgender is an umbrella term for a diverse group of people whose gender identity or expression differs from societal expectations of how they should look, act, or identify based on the sex they were assigned at birth—such as male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM) trans people, genderqueer individuals, and many others. Gender identity—a person’s innate identification as a man, woman, or something else, which may or may not correspond to the person’s external body or the sex listed on their birth certificate—is separate from sexual orientation. So while it’s possible to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (or straight, asexual, or poly…) and be trans, they are not the same thing.

Although we often talk about the LGBT community as a whole, the transgender community—the T in LGBT—faces unique challenges in public understanding and acceptance, discrimination and legal protections, and health disparities stemming from all of the above.

For instance, 23 states and the District of Columbia ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; but only 16 of those states and D.C. protect their residents from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Job insecurity created by employment discrimination can lead to low income, inadequate housing, and sporadic health care.

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