A baker in Colorado made the news by refusing to bake a cake for a transgender customer. The baker reportedly agreed to bake the cake until he learned that the customer was going to use it in a celebration of their transition from male to female.
The disgruntled baker refused to bake the cake on religious grounds and wound up in court while attracting attention from the media. They unsuccessfully filed an appeal that insisted the cakes he creates are a form of speech. The court system ultimately decided that his cakes are not a form of speech and the appeal was denied.
That’s the crazy world we are living in today. There are still people are so bigoted and ignorant that something like being asked to bake a cake for a transgender person is enough to set them off. Events like this serve to remind us that we still have a lot of work to do to end transgender discrimination in this country.
What is Transgender Discrimination?
Transgender individuals around the world often face discrimination due to their gender identity or expression. This discrimination can take many forms, from subtle insults to physical violence. It is wrong, and we must take steps to put an end to it.
To understand why transgender discrimination is wrong, we must look at the various ways it manifests itself, the reasons why it is so pervasive, and the actions we can take to make a change. By understanding the dynamics of discrimination against transgender individuals, we can create a world that is more welcoming and equitable for everyone.
Transgender discrimination is the marginalization and systematic discrimination of transgender individuals due to their gender identity. Gender identity is a person’s internal sense of their gender. It is separate from gender expression, which refers to the way a person expresses their gender through their clothing, hairstyles, vocal inflection, etc.
There is an entire community of people with a discrepancy between their gender identity and the gender they were assigned at birth. Some transgender individuals choose to transition, which means they undergo medical procedures to bring their bodies closer to their gender identity. This process can include hormone replacement therapy or gender reassignment surgery.
Transgender discrimination is often experienced by transgender people across all facets of life, including housing, health care, employment, etc.
Manifestations of Transgender Discrimination
Transgender discrimination can be expressed in a number of ways:
- Bullying and Harassment – Bullying and harassment are common ways in which transgender discrimination manifests itself. Harassment can take the form of name-calling, social exclusion, and physical violence. As recently as 2019, violence against transgender people was termed an epidemic, with 68% of victims living in the Southern United States.
- Health Care Denial – Transgender individuals face barriers to health care that other people do not. Some forms of discrimination against transgender people in healthcare settings occur in doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, and even in mental health settings.
- Employment Discrimination – Transgender discrimination in the workplace can happen in hiring practices, termination, and pay equity. For example, if an employer decides not to hire a transgender individual because they do not want to deal with the potential controversy, they are engaging in employment discrimination.
- Housing Discrimination – Transgender individuals face unique challenges when it comes to finding and retaining housing.
Transgender people can encounter discrimination when looking for housing, such as being turned down or being asked intrusive questions about their gender identity. Transgender people can also experience discrimination in the housing system due to their identity by being denied housing, evicted, or denied assistance.
Other forms of discrimination occur in health insurance coverage, where some companies do not cover transition-related procedures. Transgender discrimination in health care settings can also take the form of mishandling and misgendering of patients, which can cause emotional distress.
Reasons Why Transgender Discrimination Is so Pervasive
- Lack of Knowledge – One of the main reasons why transgender discrimination is so pervasive is that many people, even those who consider themselves accepting and open-minded, lack knowledge about transgender identities. This lack of knowledge and understanding leads to assumptions and misconceptions about transgender people, which are some of the root causes of discrimination.
- Lack of Representation – Another reason transgender discrimination is so pervasive is that transgender individuals are often not represented in the media. This lack of representation leads many people, both in and out of the LGBTQ+ community, to view transgender people incorrectly which can lead to discrimination.
- Fear of the Unknown – Some people discriminate against transgender people because they are afraid of what they don’t know.
They may worry about their own safety or discomfort without ever giving transgender people a chance to show that they are just like everyone else. This fear leads to discrimination.
How Transgender Discrimination Affects Individuals and Communities
Discriminatory acts against transgender people cause a great deal of harm both to individuals and to communities on a larger scale.
- Mental Health – Transgender discrimination can negatively impact the mental health of transgender individuals. This can lead to issues like depression, anxiety, or even thoughts of suicide.
- Self-Esteem – Transgender discrimination can impact a person’s self-esteem. For example, when a transgender person is ignored or overlooked, it can make them feel like they are not important.
- Self-Harm – Transgender discrimination can also lead to self-harm, such as cutting, burning, or other forms of self-injury. When a person feels alone, ashamed, and in pain, they may turn to self-harm as an outlet for their emotions.
- Impaired Academic Performance – Transgender discrimination can also lead to impaired academic performance among transgender students in school. This can lead to lower grade point averages and even withdrawal from school. It’s easy to understand why this can happen, as many transgender students may not feel motivated to succeed in a society that does not accept them.
Steps We Can Take to End Transgender Discrimination
There are steps that we can all take to end transgender discrimination and build a better, more inclusive world.
- Educate Ourselves – The first step in ending transgender discrimination is to educate yourself on transgender identities, preferences, and courtesies. This means educating yourself on the various identities within the transgender community, the language used to describe transgender people and their identities, and the experiences of transgender people.
- Challenge Your Assumptions and Stereotypes – When transgender discrimination pops up in your life, ask yourself why you feel the way you do. Challenge the assumptions and stereotypes that may be influencing your feelings.
- Include Transgender People in Your Life – Include transgender people in your life, whether it be as a friend, family member, or colleague. By bringing transgender individuals into your life and showing them that you care, you can help reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness many transgender people experience.
- Stand Up for Transgender People – When you see transgender discrimination, stand up and say something about it. This may include confronting the individual committing the discrimination, removing yourself from a situation where transgender people are being belittled or finding someone in a position of power to intervene.
Creating an Inclusive Environment for Transgender People
By working together, we can create a more inclusive environment for transgender people. We can accomplish this by:
- Educating Others – The best way to create an inclusive environment for transgender people is to educate others on transgender identities.
- Creating Inclusive Policies – In addition to creating a safe space and educating others, create inclusive policies in your community.
- Being Inclusive – In addition to creating inclusive policies, be inclusive in your language and actions.
- Being an Ally – In addition to creating a safe space, creating inclusive policies, and being inclusive in language and action, be an ally to transgender people in your life.
Conclusion: How We Can Move Forward to End Transgender Discrimination
Discrimination against transgender people is wrong. It is important that we understand why it is wrong so that we can work to end it. When we understand transgender discrimination, we can work to end it.
By being knowledgeable about transgender identities and issues, being inclusive and accepting, standing up for transgender people, and creating inclusive policies and environments, we can create a better world for transgender people.
As a result, we create a better world for us all.