November is Trans Awareness Month and we want to punch our fists in the air and celebrate all the glorious victories that the LGBTQ+ community has seen in 2015. In May, the Western world celebrated with rainbow cakes and flags when Ireland voted a big, fat yes in the same-sex marriage referendum. Later in June, the United States Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states across the country. Since then, other groups of the LGBTQ+ community have been gaining public awareness too and none more so than the transgender community.
For those of you who don’t know, the term ‘transgender’ involves people whose gender identity or self-expression is not the one they were assigned with at birth. For example, someone who was born a girl but transitioned into a boy would be a trans-man, and vice versa. It’s a pretty broad term which can be used at any time before, during or after a trans person has transitioned from one gender to another, or even if they decide to never transition at all. For someone who has always been comfortable in the gender they’ve grown up with, being transgender can be confusing to understand and accept, but today, more and more people are starting to. And we think this is GREAT.
So, why has the trans-community gained more attention?
Enter Caitlyn Jenner. A retired Olympic champion turned reality star, Caitlyn was formerly Bruce Jenner, father of fashion models Kendall and Kylie Jenner with ex-wife Kris Jenner (who is, of course, mother of Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and Rob – yes, it’s all very confusing). It would be very difficult to write an article about the increasing transgender awareness without including this woman. In April, Caitlyn received global publicity when she revealed in an interview with 20/20 that she was a trans-woman. Jenner had suffered with gender dystopia since she was a child and went through periods of cross-dressing as an adult, only announcing now that, “for all intents and purposes, I am a woman”. Although time has passed and you’ve survived countless 9-5’s and the recent London fog, my guess is you still haven’t forgotten the cover of the April issue of Vanity Fair. Am I right? Yes. Wasn’t it fabulous? Yes.
The cover showed Caitlyn posing, for the first time, as the woman she always knew herself to be. Unsurprisingly, people had a lot to say about it. The media went crazy and so did Twitter, where she broke Barack Obama’s record for the highest-grossing Twitter account of all time. She gained 1 million followers in less than an hour, but some users weren’t as positive about Caitlyn’s transition. One user tweeted ‘#BruceJenner is not a hero and neither is his alter ego #CaitlynJenner #fraudster’, and another tweeted ‘#CaitlynJenner waited for his children to grow up before becoming a freak, he however did not wait for my children to grow up’. In the end, Twitter proved that positivity was contagious; tweets of immense love and support for Jenner flooded our screens and outweighed the hate, from your favourite bus driver that smiles at you every time you step aboard (although obviously he didn’t tweet at the wheel) to celebrities like Ellen Degeneres, Anna Kendrick and Sam Smith.
Of course, it’s important to note that Caitlyn Jenner’s success is not a typical experience of a transgender person. She is a privileged minority. The majority of transgender people do not have millions of dollars casually knocking about like Caitlyn does, ready to spend on their transitional surgery, nor do they have the loving and supportive family around them to make coming out easier. A recent UK survey showed that 48% of trans-people under the age of 26 had attempted suicide, and 59% of trans-youth regularly subjected themselves to painful self-harming. That’s high, huh? Well, sadly these statistics aren’t surprising for those in the know. Margaret Unwin, Chief Executive of Pace, a mental health charity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people stated: “The lack of visibility and acceptance in society contributes to these shocking figures about suicide attempts and self-harm in trans young people. Whilst society’s attitudes towards transgender people are changing, it is still not fast enough and the negative impacts on trans people’s mental health every day are huge.”
So, yes, 2015 has been a truly amazing year for the equality of the LGBTQ+ community, and we should all see this month as an opportunity to collectively pat ourselves on the back. Regardless of whether you think she is brave or stupid, beautiful or ugly, a glamourised reality star or not, Caitlyn Jenner’s announcement was a positive step towards fully recognising and accepting the transgender community in our society. And this is… well, a good start. However, it is one, small step in an agonisingly long journey to that dreamy word called equality. We have miles and miles to go. Please, get your head out of the sand and buy some running shoes. Its also interesting to see that people are more open minded about adult content like videos found on https://www.shemalehd.sex/. Transgender people deserve sexual appreciatation just as much as anyone else.
Happy Trans Awareness Month!