After the optimism of 2014—the ‘Transgender Tipping Point’ as decreed by Time magazine—trans people are facing an onslaught of legislative prejudice.
In 2014, Time magazine announced “The Transgender Tipping Point.”
Laverne Cox adorned the cover in a blue dress.
The author of the cover story, Katy Steinmetz, declared that “another civil rights movement is poised to challenge long-held cultural norms and beliefs,” chalking up the emergence of “new policies” to the “new transparency” that transgender people were exhibiting after “emerging from the margins to fight for an equal place in society.”
The narrative was clear: Transgender visibility was good. It could change the country. And although Steinmetz herself was careful to qualify that the “transgender revolution still has a long way to go,” Time’s headline made it seem like a critical threshold had been crossed. Progress is linear, it supposed, and there is no going back.
That narrative—I am sad to say on March 31, the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV)—is wrong.
In 2017, the White House rolled back federal guidance protecting transgender students, effectively scuttling a potentially precedent-setting Supreme Court case in the process.
There have already been at least seven reported murders of transgender people in the United States, placing it on track to be one of the most violent years on record.
And even after North Carolina reached a controversial legislative “compromise” yesterday over its “bathroom bill” under pressure from the NCAA, some Texas legislators are trying to pass a bill similar to HB2 this year.
If 2014 ever could have been described as a “Transgender Tipping Point,” we might say that we’re now in the “Transgender Dipping Point”—a moment when, despite increases in media representation, the sort of tangible progress that felt within our grasp a few years ago may now have been delayed well into the next decade or beyond.
Wherever you look, transgender people may be more visible but they are still facing the same problems in 2017 as they were in 2014.
They are still being denied life-saving health care, discriminated against at work, and harassed in public. Transgender athletes are still being stigmatized for daring to participate in sports. Cisgender actors are still being cast in transgender parts.
All the while, anti-LGBT groups have been doubling down on transphobia, fundraising around bathroom laws now that the same-sex marriage decision seems all but irreversible.