In the twelve months preceding November 2012, at least 265 transgender people were murdered across the world. That figure comes from the Trans Murder Monitoring group, and covers only documented cases in 29 countries, so the true tally is likely to be higher.
For anyone interested in equality, it should be obvious that trans people are subject to harassment simply for the way they express their gender identity. If they do not “pass” in the street, they can be subject to everything from cruel comments and sideways glances to assault or rape – just for standing out. The kind of dehumanising language which most people would find outdated and offensive if used against women, or a racial group, is routinely used when talking about trans people.
In recent decades, there have been great improvements in the way that both the medical community and the wider public deal with issues around gender identity. But sometimes it seems that a lack of knowledge, or awareness, is preventing people from engaging in what should be an important cause. Many people I know would never deliberately set out to offend, but are clueless about what pronouns to use, or how to refer to trans people.
For that reason, the New Statesman blogs will be hosting a week devoted to trans issues, with a new blog every day on the subject. We hope to dispel some myths – and also offer some hope. Talking about trans issues purely in negative terms does not do justice to the many trans people living happy and fulfilled lives, and so there will also be pieces celebrating positive trans role models in pop culture, and describing the reasons to be optimistic about the future of trans people in Britain.
The aim of the series is to reach out in a straightforward and friendly way to people who haven’t considered these issues before: potential commenters should know that no one is waiting to jump down your throat for an innocent mistake.
There won’t be room this week to cover the breadth of trans experience, and so the articles that follow should be viewed only as trying to start a conversation. We hope that you will continue it in the comments here, on social media, and in your own lives.
Monday: How a trans teacher showed adults have more hang-ups about gender than primary school kids by Jane Fae
Tuesday: Everything you’ve always wanted to know about trans issues (but were afraid to ask) by Jennie Kermode
Wednesday: Trans people, pronouns and language by Juliet Jacques
Thursday: Trans role models: Janet Mock, Paris Lees, CN Lester and Luke Anderson by Matthew Reuben
Friday: Trans people and the current feminist movement by Petra Davis and Non-binary: An introduction to another way of thinking about identity by Sky Yarlett
PS. I should add upfront that this theme week was planned before the recent Twitterstorm about Julie Burchill’s article. We won’t be hosting a response to that, as the idea of a New Statesman comment piece about an Observer comment piece about a Guardian comment piece about Twitter comments made after a New Statesman comment piece might be testing the patience of a casual reader.
PPS. You can find our previous theme weeks at the following links: Britishness; censorship and pornography; masculinity and British comics.