The New Front in Social Justice: Transgender Issues


On one hand, I’m glad to see that transgender issues seem to be getting more cultural currency and awareness with recent examples I’ve seen including the transgender man leading a Men’s Health magazine cover contest in the popular votes, Laverne Cox (already galvanizing the movement with her representation on Orange Is the New Black) posing nude in Allure, the first transgender woman to do so and that cool story I’ve seen going around of Congressman Mike Honda’s 8-year-old transgender granddaughter.

But with that new currency, comes the next front in the movement in dealing with backwards attitudes toward transgenders. More or less, I think attitudes toward gays have vastly improved and that the gay marriage battle is won. There’s pockets of trench warfare, but the momentum of history is going the right way on this. Even Marco freaking Rubio said being gay was not a choice…

However, as it often happens, there’s a mainstream of any movement and smaller voices get shut out. I think transgender issues manifest that dichotomy, especially transgender voices of color and it’s unfortunate when you consider, for one, the amount of violence and sexual violence against transgender individuals (of color, most often) is not only the most predominant iin the LGBTQ community, but the most severe, according to the National Report on Hate Violence Against LBGTQ and HIV-Affected Communities. That is, 72% of homicide victims were transgender women and more than 67% were transgender women of color.

Even worse, most don’t report to the police and if they do, the police mishandle them. Then we can get into how the media reports on transgender issues.

Here’s a an introduction into the issue for the uninitiated: There’s a difference between sex and gender. Sex indicates the biological outcome of our birth, whether we have a male or female genitalia. Gender identity, on the other hand, is purely a social construction. These are not interchangeable terms. And gender identity’s scale is much more extensive and fluid than “male or female,” and rightly so.

Members of the Gay, Lesbian and Transgen

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