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  • Writer's pictureBen Pechey

Trans Awareness Week 2021

It is Trans awareness week this week, culminating tomorrow with the Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is an annual week to help raise the visibility of transgender people and address issues members of the community face.

In the U.K. the trans community have never been more aware of the impact that being part of the trans community causes. This awareness week, like many others in the wider LGBTQIA+ calendar, seems to have lost some of its impact. Events such as these have been sucked into the world of commercialisation.

Don’t get me wrong, brands and companies should be involved in the conversation surrounding LGBTQIA+ issues, but only to create awareness, not financial clout. This kind of marketing, and it is just marketing, creates some issues for those actually within the community.

Over the last decade, trans awareness has increased tenfold, but trans understanding has come nowhere near that. We have a public engaged in a conversation about us - never with us - and they have very little understanding of the community and all the wonderful individuals within it. No wonder the discourse we see in the press is so negative, pervasive, and dominant - the wider public is clueless.

What is startling about the attention we receive, is that according to research around 1% of the population identities as trans - which includes non-binary people. This is an estimate as we don’t have any clear figures. Which means around 600,000 people. So much attention for so few people!

Stonewall have amazing research, in 2018 they found that two in five trans people have had a hate crime committed against them in the last year, two in five trans young people had attempted suicide and one in eight trans people have been physically attacked by colleagues or customers at work.

The world is not kind to trans people.

More recent research from Galop found that in 2020 four in five trans people had experienced a hate crime in the previous 12 months. This shows a worrying increase in transphobic violence and abuse.

To exist as trans is not all of these things at once. There is a lot of joy in being trans, yet there is much more trying to knock that joy out of our lives. I think it is important to give you some actions that as an ally you can move forwards with.

Don’t believe everything you read

The media is obsessed with trans people, to the point of hysteria. In the last 18 months, the number of column inches given over to the ‘trans issue’ has increased dramatically.

By the 24th of May 2021, the 144th day of 2021, the Times and Sunday Times had published 223 stories about the Trans Community or as they put it ‘Trans Issues’. Which is roughly around two a day. Now there is not that much news, nor is there that much to discuss, and clearly shows a discriminatory approach to the Trans community within the media.

On the whole, if it hasn’t been written by a trans person, had trans involvement or endorsement then it is not accurate. So don’t believe everything you read!

Remember that we’re all unique

The trans experience is often liquified into a soundbite, when in fact there is so much variation from person to person. I think there is a huge need to stop trying to ‘get’ us and instead just accepting us for who we are.

Learn to leave us alone

It might sound a little incongruous with Trans Awareness Week, but for most of us, we feel like ants under the microscope. There is a huge need for space just to exist, and this is something that I hope the whole community can find as we move forwards! We're more than the sum of our intersections, so please just allow us to be people, and give us some peace.

So trans awareness is good, but what you do with that awareness is more important! Thank you for joining me today, I'll be back next week my darlings.

Shot by Rachel Pechey


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