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Transgender activism goals

Commentary: Trans Progressive

There are whys to transgender activism, but beyond the whys there are the whats of transgender activism. What does transgender activism seek to achieve? Well, here are the six major goals of trans activism with some explanation as to why.


According to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)/Task Force report Injustice at Every Turn A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, trans and gender non-conforming respondents experienced double the rate of unemployment. Survey respondents experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the general population at the time of the survey, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate.

And, trans and gender non-conforming respondents experienced widespread mistreatment at work: 90 percent of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it, 47 percent said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion, and 26 percent had lost a job.


According to the NCTE/Task Force report, 19 percent of surveyed trans and gender non-conforming respondents reported having been refused a home or apartment and 11 percent reported being evicted. And, 19 percent of trans respondents reported experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives.

Public accommodation

Public accommodation for transgender people isn’t primarily about bathrooms.

Again according to the NCTE/Task Force report 53 percent of trans and gender non-conforming respondents reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.

Also, 22 percent were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official, 29 percent reported police harassment or disrespect, and 12 percent had been denied equal treatment or harassed by judges or court officials.

Full access to education

According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) report Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools, almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89 percent) and their gender expression (87 percent). Over half of all transgender students had been physically harassed in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (55 percent) and their gender expression (53 percent). Many transgender students had been physically assaulted.

Also, harassment and bullying had impacts on trans students ability to learn, and ability to have normative outcomes. Transgender students experiencing high levels of harassment were more likely to report that they were not planning on going to college than those experiencing lower levels of harassment.

Full access to health care services

Again according to the NCTE/Task Force report, denial of health care and multiple barriers to care are commonplace in the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Respondents in the study seeking health care were denied equal treatment in doctor’s offices and hospitals (24 percent), emergency rooms (13 percent) and mental health clinics (11 percent). Female-to-male respondents reported higher rates of unequal treatment than male-to-female respondents.

Plus, 19 percent had been refused treatment by a doctor or other provider.

Recognition of appropriate gender

As stated in the NCTE/Task Force report:

“Possessing accurate and consistent identification documents is essential to basic social and economic functioning in our country. Access to employment, housing, health care and travel all can hinge on having appropriate documentation. Yet, for many of the respondents, obtaining identity documents that match their gender is a major hurdle.”

The basic goals for trans community activism aren’t unique to civil rights movements past and present. In accomplishing civil rights work, one doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. As with other civil rights movements, one has to identify community challenges that civil rights legislation can help address, then learning from the methods of previous civil rights movements, act. That acting to address trans specific issues – that is the thrust of transgender civil rights activism.

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Posted by on Aug 4, 2011. Filed under Trans Progressive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

3 Comments for “Transgender activism goals”

  1. Excellent Autumn…. http://wp.me/pnQPn-1l Yes! Not special rights but EQUAL rights promised over 200 years ago to ALL citizens! Because they are supposed to be default rights, I describe our struggle as “taking back penny by penny the dollar taken from our hand”..

  2. Interestingly enough, the right/needs of transgender children (below high school age) were not mentioned at all. This, despite the fact that virtually all transgender people express awareness that they were “different” in early childhood. In order to fully change the trans narrative, we must change the way we respond to our trans children. For more information on, visit the TransActive Education & Advocacy website at http://www.transactiveonline.org. We are the leading transgender child and youth family services organization in the United States.

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