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11 Reasons Being Trans Means Living Beyond the Binary

11 Reasons Being Trans Means Living Beyond the Binary

11 Reasons Being Trans Means Living Beyond the Binary

With the trans community's increased visibility, many believe being transgender is mainstreamed. Clearly, proponents of this idea erase the vast difference between the trans experience in front of the cameras and the trans experience out on the streets.

Death rates for trans women increased this year, while trans youth fights for safe and affirming learning environments. These are a few of the issues that plague the trans community. Here are 11 reasons being transgender is far from mainstream.

1. There are very few trans celebrities.

If you can only name a few “exceptional” examples of trans folk in the media, there’s a problem. I hope that one day society realizes we’re everywhere!

2. Many don’t know what “transgender” means.

Despite Google, people still confuse the intricacies and nuances of trans or gender non-conforming identities. If you need help, GLAAD has a wonderful guide.

3. People are shocked that trans people don’t all look and act the same, or have the same desires. 

We don’t need to applaud trans people when they aren’t “clockable” and we don’t need to continue to shame or stigmatize people who aren’t assumed to be cisgender. Trans people come in all shapes, sizes and colors — we’re all beautiful.

4. Whether in interpersonal situations or systematically, trans people continue to be othered and disrespected every day.

Trans people are not walking experiments for you to gawk. We’re human and deserve respect just like anybody else.

5. Finding a doctor versed in my needs as a trans person is difficult. And, by proxy, finding health insurance that covers transition needs is near impossible.

For trans people who opt to medically transition, the costs can be steep. From hormones to potential surgeries and more, being trans is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. We need comprehensive healthcare access and professionals who know our bodies.

6. Murder and suicide plague our community in higher percentages than the cisgender public.

More than 20 trans women of color were murdered this year and the violence against trans people is escalating. We need to continue to raise awareness for these cases and hold those who commit transphobic acts or foster transphobic environments accountable.

7. Legally changing your name or gender is an exhausting process.

Trans people experience relentless discrimination when they attempt to legally change their name of gender. Legal fees and extreme medical requirements make this process nearly impossible. We must reform the processes for name and gender changes so that trans folk everywhere can safely and comfortably transition.

8. Some people are outraged by the minimal transgender media that exists.

Those who voice being “sick of” trans issues in the media and “thrust in their faces” only illuminate the fact that being trans is still seen as an anomaly. If being trans was mainstream, it wouldn’t even register as an unnecessary topic to cover.

We have a long way to go in terms of expanding the trans narrative. The media continues to ignore non-binary folk, people of color, trans youth and many others. 

9. Hollywood ignores the profitability of authentic trans portrayals.

In 2015, the doors are slowly opening for trans actors to show their chops, but many of the major trans characters on TV are played by cis people of a different gender than the character.

Many claim acting as a different gender is no different from any other role. However, Hollywood will make true progress when trans actors are immediately considered to play trans characters. `

10. Trans people fight to be heard in mainstream social justice movements.

When we take into consideration the intersections of identity that many trans people have, we have to understand that while trans people continue to fight for more inclusion in the LGBTQ Movement, we are also fighting for more of a presence in other groups or movements that we may be a part of.

11. People still think gender identity issues are a new phenomenon.

Gender variant people have existed since the beginning of time. Although we may not have always lived in cultures or times that accepted us, or that we were empowered to truly express ourselves — that doesn’t negate our existence. Even now, visibility hasn’t caused more people to be trans, but it has inspired more people to be open about their identities and see the possibilities of living happy, healthy and fulfilled lives in their truths.

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Raquel Willis

A black trans queer feminist media maven. A proponent of all things equality.

A black trans queer feminist media maven. A proponent of all things equality.