With media coverage ranging from the likes of Caitlyn Jenner to the remarks made by Trump and his supporters, the overall existence of transgender people is pretty well covered. People understand that transgender individuals exist; that we take up space in their society, schools, and workplaces. My peers have always understood the bureaucracy of being transgender, the paperwork involved and the waiting times to be seen by doctors. However, the hidden and rarely spoken of world that many transgender people live in is rife with mental health issues and discrimination. From unemployment to family life, to violence, and homelessness. Being transgender can place a person in a dangerous situation, but when these people are the youth of today, these issues place everyone’s futures at risk.
Being transgender comes with it’s own set of mental health issues; the disconnect a person can feel with their body may be enough to prevent them from living a full life, and a society that dictates that we must have certain characteristics to ‘be’ a certain gender is enough to allow a transgender person to feel that they are not enough, and may never be so. When these feelings are combined with discrimination or the lack of acceptance from friends, family, and wider society, transgender people are often left out on their own. Transgender teens face the prospect of homelessness. The National Centre for Transgender Equality reports that at least one in ten people in the United States are evicted from housing due to their gender identity. Stonewall reported that, in a study of UK pupils, eight out of ten transgender youths have self-harmed, and almost half have attempted suicide. This is usually found to have been caused by bullying, despite many schools having anti-bullying policies in place.
I was 14 when I first realised I was transgender. I didn’t know what the word for it was, and I didn’t understand why I felt this way, considering I’d heard of other transgender people knowing since they were very young. The idea was so horrifying to me, and it was because of what I’d heard people laughing about around school that I completely rebelled against these feelings. I attempted to become the most feminine woman I possibly could. I lost friends because I was changing myself, and I lost parts of myself too. Eventually, I grew so disgusted in myself, I began to self-harm. I isolated myself and swore not to tell a soul about my feelings.
It wasn’t until I got to university and I saw so many other people like me that I was able to be me. They were able to live their lives, they were getting along with other people. If they could do it, so could I. Two years on, and I am happily out and proud as a transman. The difference in myself is astounding. I am no longer afraid of other people, I am no longer scared to be seen out in public. Acceptance of transgender people is what makes the difference between life and death.
Transgender issues need more coverage because people are unaware of the emotional turmoil we go through. Transgender issues need more coverage because cisgender people should understand without transgender people having to constantly explain ourselves. Transgender issues need more coverage because the acceptance of transgender people could literally save lives.