According to the NCAVP, 72 percent of LGBTQ+ hate crime victims in 2013 were transgender women, and 67 percent were transgender women of color. 41 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming people have attempted suicide according to the NCTE, as compared to 1.6 percent of the entire population. It is devastatingly dangerous to be a trans person and these statistics are not going to change on their own.
As we approach Transgender Day of Remembrance, UNT Pride Alliance and Outreach Denton are hosting a memorial to commemorate trans lives lost in 2016. The memorial will be held on the downtown square on Nov. 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. and will feature keynote speaker and TWU MWGS doctoral student E. Tamplin. They spoke with The Lasso about anti-trans violence TWU’s support for its trans community, and beginner guidelines for being an effective ally.
Tamplin: “Last week, we experienced the twenty-first death of a trans person – more specifically a trans woman of color – and that’s the same number we hit last year… Education about trans identities is far behind and the ethical respect of trans bodies and trans lives is still not where it needs to be.”
According to Tamplin, this lack of respect often leads trans individuals to feel invisible, isolated and alienated. Issues of hypervisiblity and tokenism also arise when one trans person is asked to speak on behalf of the entire community.
“Trying to put one student on the line and say ‘this is what diversity looks like’ is often very dangerous because it silences and excludes other trans people’s experiences.”
Tamplin shares praises and complaints about trans inclusivity on campus: “TWU does try to foster some sense of community for LGBTQ+ members, even if it takes those community members making their own safe spaces and support systems . There are a lot of supportive faculty members across disciplines.” Some spaces provide ample access to single stall bathrooms, such as the ACT building. However, it is still difficult for trans students to feel comfortable in spaces like the Fit & Rec locker rooms. Tamplin: “There’s just not a lot of programming on this campus for LGBTQ+ students in terms of support for them and education for the rest of the campus…Denton overall has done a lot of work to start to open up to the LGBTQ+ community, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Tamplin says.
So, what can you do? Both on and off campus, Tamplin strongly encourages allies to listen to the concerns and needs of marginalized voices. While sharing Facebook videos and showing virtual support is nice, they stress the importance of physically attending rallies, social events and support groups. Above all, they urge allies to educate themselves – to do the work on their own and ask questions as needed. When allies rely solely on marginalized communities for education, Tamplin says, “It really recenters the conversation on those who already have a dominant voice, and it doesn’t help anyone grow.”
They maintain that one of the best ways to be an ally is to recognize your privilege and use it to help someone else. Tamplin: “This oftentimes means putting yourselves on the line and I don’t think most people are ready for that.”