Image by Jacob Downey

The state of trans existence

Anna Log




I would like you to imagine a world where in every community you join, every place you work, anywhere and everywhere you go, there are people that openly want to erase people like you from existence, but no one bats an eye. A world where every day you watch members of your family and community ridiculed, marginalized, brutalized, and killed. 

The world simply watches on, complacent in your suffering. Some people even have the audacity to tell you it’s not that bad, that it can’t be that bad. Trans people don’t have to imagine that world, they live in it. 

As a trans person myself, I think the worst part of all this suffering that I have experienced is the people I thought loved and understood me repeating that tried-and-true line: “It can’t be that bad.” Maybe you feel the same way about the state of trans existence; I can’t say I blame you. 

That line of thought is dominant throughout the popular understanding of transgender issues. To begin to remedy this widespread misunderstanding, let us discuss the documented and proven reality of the trans experience in the United States of America. All I ask is that you read with an open mind and heart and analyze the arguments and evidence I present you with fairly. In return, I promise I will engage you without judgment or ill will, only the desire to offer a new perspective. If these terms are agreeable to you then continue reading. I welcome you with open arms and kind regards. 

First, let’s dispel some common misconceptions and mistruths that are frequently used to dismiss the trans experience. 

  1. Being transgender is a mental illness and should not be affirmed: The World Health Organization describes mental illness as “characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation, or behavior. It is usually associated with distress or impairment in important areas of functioning.” The simple characteristic of being transgender does not fall into this category any more than being cisgender does. Furthermore, even if it did, evidence shows that 78% of trans people who have transitioned are “more satisfied with their life” for having done so. 
  1. Dangerous and irreversible surgeries and processes are widespread: Only 31% of transgender individuals report partaking in any hormone therapy, with an even lower percentage (16%) receiving gender affirming surgery. Only one percent of that sixteen percent regret receiving this form of care (.16% of the entire transgender population).

With that out of the way, let’s dive into some of the stark realities of being transgender in America. Perhaps the most sobering statistics related to the trans experience are the statistics of violence carried out against them. Transgender people are four times as likely than their cis counterparts to be the victims of violent crime. On top of this, a staggering 47% of transgender people report being sexually assaulted at least once in their life. 65% report having experienced homelessness. If these numbers alone are not enough to convince you that there is something seriously wrong with the way that we as a society protect trans people and their rights, I’m not sure anything will. 

So, what can you do about it? The National Center for Transgender Equality has an excellent guide titled Supporting the Transgender People in Your Life: A guide to being a Good Ally, which describes allyship far more concisely than I ever could, so I’ll just share a few key takeaways and encourage you to read it for yourself. 

  1. Respect other people’s identities and experiences: You don’t have to understand or “get” a person’s identity to respect them. Trans people deserve your respect just like anyone else. 
  2. Learn about the policies that affect transgender people: It’s incredibly important to fight for legislation that protects transgender people and against legislation that discriminates against them. In my opinion, this is the single most important part of allyship; any form of allyship without it is simply performative. 
  3. Push for support and inclusivity, not just “tolerance”: Tolerance is simply the act of allowing transgender people to exist. We can, and should, do so much better than just tolerate the existence of others. Transgender people deserve support and inclusion. 

At the end of the day, it is not about being the perfect ally, it’s about doing your best and showing up where it counts. I truly hope that this brief piece of writing inspires you to learn more about what it is really like to be transgender, and why it should be everybody’s duty to fight for the rights of transgender people.