Why We Need Transgender Awareness Week November 13-19


Yearly, you can count on the third week in November being celebrated as National Transgender Awareness Week.  Between November 13-19, people and organizations in the U.S. help raise visibility about transgender people.  As allies of the trans community, we need to address the issues members of that community face such as social stigma, discrimination and harassment when they tell other other people who they are.

Some of these issues result in:

  • Being fired or denied a job.
  • Facing harassment and bullying at school.
  • Becoming homeless or living in extreme poverty
  • Being evicted or denied housing or access to a shelter.
  • Being denied access to critical medical care
  • Being incarcerated or targeted by law enforcement.
  • Facing violence and abuse.


Sobering Statistics

The Trevor Project reports that 59% of Black transgender and non-binary young people have seriously considered suicide and 45% have experienced homelessness. According to The Advocate Magazine, between October 2019-September 30, 2020, there were 350 murders of transgender people, most of them Black and Latino women.  These horrific figures were taken from the Trans Murder Monitor.

Transgender Day Of Remembrance

National Transgender Awareness Week culminates in The Transgender Day of Remembrance, usually held on November 20th. This day honors the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in anti-transgender violence that year.  Vigils are hosted by local transgender advocates or LGBTQ organizations and held at community centers, parks, places of worship and other venues.  The vigils include reading a list of those who have died that year.

There are documentaries to explore such as Disclosure on Netflix.  It shows the “dynamic interplay” between trans representation on screen, resulting cultural attitudes off-screen, and real-world consequences.

Transhood is a 2020 American documentary film directed by and produced by Sharon Liese.  It follows four children, beginning at ages four, seven, twelve and fifteen.  Since November 12, you can see it on HBO Max.

Definition of A Transgender

Many transgender people are misunderstood by the straight population.  They are NOT the same as cross dressers who tend not to associate with LGBTQ+ community.  Most identify as heterosexuals.  Cross dressing is a form of gender expression.

They are people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be at birth. Sexual orientation has to do with whom you’re attracted to.  Transgender people can have any sexual orientation.

Although some have the following medical treatments such as hair growth or removal of hair, hormone therapy or chest surgery, it is not necessary to do so if you are transgender.  The operations such as bottom surgery are expensive.

How Many Transgenders Are There In the U.S.?

The Williams Institute, an LGBTQ policy program at UCLA Law, using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, in 2016, estimates that there were 1.4 million transgender people (but that was four years ago).  Hawaii, California, Georgia, New Mexico, Texas and Florida have the highest percentages of adults who identify as transgender.

The youngest group, 18 to 24, are more likely to identify as transgender.  There were encouraging winnings in this year’s elections by transgenders who were “out:”

  • Sarah McBride, 30, is the first trans state senator in Delaware.  She is the highest ranking openly trans lawmaker in the U.S.
  • Taylor Small, 26, Director of Health and Wellness program at The Pride Center in Burlington, won a seat in the Vermont Legislative.
  • Brianna Titone, 27, scientist and  first openly transgender state legislator for The House of Representatives, elected in Colorado.
  • Lisa Bunker, children’s book author, won a seat as a Democratic Legislator in New Hampshire.
  • Stephanie Byers, 57, a member of the Chickasaw Nation in Kansas, is the first openly trans member of the Kansas State Legislature.

How To Be A Trans Ally

  • Don’t use a term if you don’t know what it means. Ask what it means.
  • Ask what pronouns a person prefers ( see my post about pronouns).
  • Show empathy and interest in their stories.
  • As GLAAD notes on its tip sheet (@glaad),”being an ally is a sustained and persistent pattern of action, not an idle or stable noun!”
When Your Child is Gay

When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know

For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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