Transgender Awareness Month
by Shane Foster
Reading time approx: 7 mins
We are now well into autumn and that means lots of difference celebrations are upon us, such as Halloween and Bonfire Night. But there is a far more significant celebration that falls at this time of year – and that is the celebration of all things ‘Transgender’. Yes, November marks Transgender Awareness Month which, of course, also includes Transgender Awareness Week and we will come back to that later in this article.
November marks the annual celebration of the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) communities, as well as an opportunity to raise awareness for the community, through education and advocacy activities. This is a crucial time to uplift all voices and experiences of the transgender and GNC community that not only increases awareness during Transgender Awareness Month, but all year-round.
There is one clear and simple message for all in this community – “YOU BELONG” – and by providing a consistent culture of belonging, care, attention and support, we can provide a thriving environment where everyone has the chance to flourish.
When we thing about transgender awareness we think about what we can learn about this and the wider LGBTQ+ community, thus ensuring we have a greater understanding. So let’s get back to some of the basics by addressing and discussing some of the appropriate terms for the transgender community:
This is an umbrella term used to describe those whose gender identity does not correspond with, or sit comfortably with, the sex they were registered at birth. We also often use the shortened phrase ‘trans’.
People who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. Usually, these people use the pronouns they/them, although this is down to personal preference.
A term that describes people whose gender expression is different from ‘conventional’ expectations of masculinity and femininity. It should be noted that not all gender non-conforming people identify as transgender; nor vice versa.
This refers to our sense of who we are and how we see and describe ourselves. Many people identify as "male" or "female". These are sometimes called "binary" identities. Some people feel their gender identity is different from their biological sex.
This refers to the way a person may choose to express their gender identity through things such as a person’s name, pronouns, clothing, behaviour, voice, haircut, body characteristics and other physical features. Remember though, a person’s gender identity should not be assumed by their gender expression.
A process a trans person may take to live in the gender they identify as.
A person whose gender identity corresponds with their biological sex (e.g. a person who was assigned biologically male or female at birth, and continues to identify this way).
Transgender Awareness Week
Transgender Awareness Week is observed each year between 13th and 19th November and is a one-week celebration to help raise the visibility of transgender people and to address the issues that members of its community face on a daily basis.
This annual celebration is a week when transgender people and their allies bring attention, through educating the public, about who transgender people are. This usually includes sharing stories and experiences and advancing advocacy around the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affects the transgender community.
The awareness week leads up to the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) which memorialises the victims of transphobic violence. The TDoR was founded by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become an annual act of remembrance.
It is important to remember that trans people face many issues within their community that causes them to feel like they are in danger or are unsafe. In fact, a recent survey found that 50% of trans people reported having been raped or assaulted by a romantic partner.
Raising awareness ensures that trans people and their supporters are formerly united with one another, allowing then to take a stand against discrimination. By raising awareness we can all highlight the challenges faced by trans people and come together to create a world of love for all.