Throughout the 1980s, in the midst of the Aids epidemic, it was commonplace to see homophobic front page headlines warning of a “gay plague” ravaging the LGBT+ community. Of course, these headlines served only to whip up a moral panic and sow seeds of division, positioning gay men especially as people who should be feared. As LGBT+ equality has progressed and rights have been won, this sort of rhetoric has thankfully become less common – but that’s not to say that we live in a world where prejudice against LGBT+ people has been eradicated entirely.
In recent years, we have seen a rise in transphobia. We see it across social media, we see it reported by the trans community, and sometimes we even see it in mainstream publications. As editor of Indy100, the Independent’s website for quick news and social justice issues, one of my main aims is to give a platform to marginalised groups who face this sort of prejudice – whether it’s publishing a video of an entitled white person calling the cops on a black person for doing something as simple as putting their feet on a chair or amplifying the voice of a trans individual who has been silenced or attacked. This week is Trans Awareness Week, so we’ve been concentrating particularly on the latter.
You don’t need to look very far to see the impact routine discrimination and abuse is having on the transgender community. More than a quarter of trans young people have attempted to commit suicide, according to Stonewall, while nine in 10 have at least thought about it. Seventy-two per cent of trans young people have self-harmed at least once, while two in five trans people have been attacked or threatened with violence in the past five years. These statistics are shocking and sad to read, but important to know.
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