is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles.
Transgender is the state of one's "gender identity" (self-identification as woman, man, neither or both) not matching one's "assigned sex" (identification by others as male, female or intersex based on physical/genetic sex). "Transgender" does not imply any specific form of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, or asexual; some may consider conventional sexual orientation labels inadequate or inapplicable to them.
Transsexualism is an individual's identification with a gender inconsistent or not culturally associated with their biological sex. Simply put, it defines a person whose biological birth sex conflicts with their psychological gender. A medical diagnosis can be made if a person experiences discomfort as a result of a desire to be a member of the opposite sex, or if a person experiences impaired functioning or distress as a result of that gender identification
Gender variance, or gender nonconformity, is behaviour or gender expression that does not conform to dominant gender norms of male and female. People who exhibit gender variance may be called "gender variant", "gender non-conforming", or "gender atypical". A sort of umbrella term that can be used to encompass many gender non-conforming identies such as transsexuals, butch, or drag queens
A survey from the article "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey" by Grant, Mottet and Tanis:
46% reported being uncomfortable asking for police assistance
Of the resondents that spent time incarcerated 37% reported harrassment from corrections officers, and 35% reported harrassment from peers
16% of respondents who spent time incarcerated reported physical assault, and 15% reported being sexually assaulted
12% of the respondents reported denial of healthcare while incarcerated and 17% reported denial of hormones
FTM transsexuals experienced more disrespectful treatment then MTF transsexuals at 37% and 25%
Black and Latino transsexuals also experienced greater disrespect than their white peers at 47% compared to 25%
According to Tanis, Mottet and Grant; Transwomen have reported being profiled as a sex-worker and arrested by police for simply walking down the street.
"After I was raped, the officer told me I got what I deserved" (160)
"I did not pass as male, but I was obviously presenting as a masculine person at a nightclub. I kissed the cheek of my girlfriend at the time....the security guard picked me up and carried me towards the door, kicked the door open with his foot and launched me out of the door of the nightclub. I tumbled to the ground to find three police officers standing over me. One said, 'Do we have trouble here?' The security guard said, 'The trouble is that this fucking lesbian needs to know what it's like to be a man'. They all started to laugh. 'I could show her,' one police officer said. Just then my friends bolted through the door and instructed me to run. I stumbled to my feet and narrowly escaped the officers hands. 'Fucking dykes! Don't come back here unless you wanna get fucked!' One of the officers screamed as we ran off." (161)
"I was arrested recently and the officer thought it necessary to announce in a loud tone to the entire jail that I was a transgender man" (164)
- A major concern of trans folks in prison is proper medical treatment. Some jurisdictions continue providing hormone treatment for trans folks who have already begun hormone therapy. However, this is not a gurarantee that they will be provided at the correct levels, or that the inmate will receive adequate physical and psychological services. Some prisons simply stop supplying the individual with their hormone treatments which can result in side effects such as high blood pressure, diabetes, muscle wasting, osteoporosis and heart failure (Edney and Richard)
- Only 20% of corrections deparments had in place formal policies for trans prisoners
- Farmer v. Brennan~ Dee Farmer, a pre-op transsexual placed in a male penitentiary. Farmer was raped, and beaten multiple times. Also acquired HIV while in prison
- Catherine Moore, also placed in a male penitentiary and moved to "protective custody" upon her rape. She was raped again during her time in isolation and ultimately committed suicide due to the psychological side effects of being kept in isolation.
- "Placing transsexual prisoners in protective custody, given their status, compounds the unconstitutionality of such a practice. Although a legitimate safety concern exists, segregation for protective reasons limits a prisoners' privileges and constitutional rights. Ultimately such confinement becomes punitive and results in a disproportionate sentence...This effectively means a transgender prisoner, through no fault of their own, is subject to less than equal treatment within the prison system" (Edney 334)
- Prisons deliberately devalue identities of trans and gender variant inmates. This is done by listing transwomen's chosen names as criminal aliases, and comepletely ignoring the chosen names of transmen
*Information taken from "To Keep Me Safe From Harm: Transgender Prisoners and the Experience of Imprisonment" by Richard Edney)
"Reports suggest a link between gender identity disorders and criminality due to the belief that gender disorders and anti-social behavior are linked. However, it is more accurate to say that anti-social behavior may be a 'consequence' of a gender disorder in the face of an intolerant environment" (220)
According to the Transgender Law Center:
49% of the Trans individuals in a 2003 survey claimed to have experienced employment discrimination
- Trans folks have difficulty getting hired due to transphobia and many resort to sex-work and drug dealing in order to support themselves
- "War on Drugs" and "Three Strikes Rule" are great contributors to already marginalized groups, such as trans folks, disproportionate numbers in the prison system for life for non-violent crimes
(information from "Building an Abolitionist Queer and Trans Movement with Everything we've got" by Bassichis, Lee and Spade)
Dean Spade, Assistant Professor at Seattle University School of Law, and founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services for transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex individuals who are low-income and/or people of color (deanspade.net).
- According to the article "Masculinity as Prison: Sexual Identity, Race, and Incarceration" by Russel K. Robinson, the L.A. county jail has a policy of segregating its gay and transgender inmates in order to protect them from sexual assault. However, is segregation really the right solution? Who in the guards minds will be protected, and who do they feel deserves protection?
- Trans inmates must "appear" trans in order for the staff to inspect them
- Gay men must identify as gay in public space and safisfactorily answer the designated questions to determine whether they are "really" gay
- All this process succeeds in doing is further marginalizing gay and trans men of color or low-income that don't fit the stereotype for a gay, white, middle-class culture
- This process also fails to protect other men that are vulnerable to sexual assault such as young, first time offenders, feminine straight men, and the disabled
- "Men are not raped in jail due to their perceived homosexual lifestyle but due to traits that are thoght to call their masculinity into question" (Robinson 1312).
- This process also labels gay men and transwomen as victims
- As discussed above in the example of Catherine Moore, segregation also deprives the inmate from needed social interaction and has negative psychological effects on the inmate, which can lead to depression and suicide
- While building trans-specific prisons may seem like a good idea it is in fact only strenghtening the Prison Industrial Complex
- For now, we should work to change legislation so that trans inmates can be housed based on their gender identity. Housing inmates based on their gender identity instead of their biological sex is a much better strategy for safety than protectice custody and isolation.
- Building more prisons will simply encourage authorities to imprison more trans folks in order to keep the prisons full and bring in revenue
- The Real Game Plan should be to organize to abolish all prisons
- "We Recognize that all people impacted by the Prison Industrial Complex are facing severe violence. Instead of saying that transgendered people are the 'most' oppressed in prisons, we can talk about the different forms of violence that people impacted by the Prison Industrial Complex face... seeking to understand the specific arrangements that cause certain communities to face particular types of violence at the hands of police and in detention can allow us to develop a solidarity around shared and different experiences with these forces and build effective resistance that gets to the root of these problems" (Bassichis, Lee, Spade 33).
- The best solution to ending violence agains trans and all people for that matter in the prison system is to build communities working to end violence. This can be done by educating one another about the PIC, as well as the systems of oppression that perpetuate violence. As well as working with formerly incarcerated people in order to help heal and reincorporate them into the community.
*Information taken from "Building an Abolitionist Trans and Queer Movement with Everything we've got"
- In 2009 the Washington D.C jail established one of the countries first policies allowing trans inmates to be housed according to their gender identity instead of their biological sex!
Kate's blog is targeted more towards LGBT youth, and suicide prevention. In any case, she's awesome and it still has a lot of relevent information on trans and other LGBT issues.
You might not know if a transgender person is in your presence. If speaking to a group, try to be inclusive.
If someone makes a transphobic joke or remark, call them out on it. Challenge transphobic thinking.
If a person says she identifies as female, use "she" and "her" regardless of what that person's body or appearance is. If you are not sure which pronoun to use ask the person, "What pronoun would you like me to use?"
If a person comes out to you as transgender, transsexual or questioning, ask that person who else knows and who you can talk to about it.
Every trans person's experience is unique. If someone is having a hard time coming out or experiencing discrimination, you can help a lot by just listening.
Admit when you've reached the limit of your knowledge. Ask for guidance or find an appropriate resource.
If someone tells you they feel like they are "trapped in the wrong body" don't tell them they are necessarily a transsexual. People who are struggling with their gender identity often need the space to figure out for themselves how to identify.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not directly connected. Someone who is transitioning may also be questioning their sexual orientation or may choose to identify in a different way then they have previously.
Examine your own ideas of gender stereotypes and challenge those around you to do the same.
Remember transgender people are individuals who deserve respect and understanding.
Offer to volunteer with a trans group in your community. Lobby for trans rights. Be sure trans issues are included when lesbian and gay rights are being talked about.
****TAKEN FROM lesbianlife.com*******
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