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IMPORTANT:This is part of a post for UNIB30004 at the University of Melbourne
According to one study, 65% of trans* individuals have been discriminated against in some form. This discrimination takes many forms and penetrates everyday life, most coming from cisgendered people. “I get trivialized for my self-identified pronouns as they/them, where cis people make the decision to deny my autonomous identities and categorize me as they please despite my blatant telling of them not to. Cis people think that their comfort is more important than my identities and safety.” says Montana, illustrating clearly how discrimination invalidates everything one feels and puts up continuous challenges for individuals to face.
Not only do individuals get continuously discriminated against, it starts from the beginning of their gender-identity journey in forms that don’t seem so bad to the outsider. Beck states: “When I was a kid, I realized that I didn’t want to wear the same things all the other girls wanted to wear other girls wanted to wear. I was pressured by my dad to wear dresses, and that I had to be like a girl and make friends with other girls, and it was more so ingrained in my head that’s what it meant to be a girl, and I didn’t like that.” This small push from their father emphasizes the micro aggressions ingrained by society into most cisgendered individuals. These ingrained ideas about gender is what the average cisgendered person needs to address in order to begin to end the discrimination towards trans community, in other words: check your privilege.
Discrimination tends to feed into the alarming prevalence of mental health issues within the trans community. “I think that many of my illnesses can be seen in the struggle of being trans; there is pain being misgendered and existing in a transphobic world, anger at intentional transphobic violence directed toward me, anxiety around having to enter “women’s” restrooms… it goes on and on” says Montana, who has been clinically diagnosed for a number of mental illnesses. Trans* individuals appear to be four times more likely to have been diagnosed with depression compared with the general population. Of the trans population currently affected by depression or anxiety, that current state numbers is greater than a lifetime prevalence within the general population. That itself is alarming, but then you pair this with the statistics on suicide based out of the USA: 41% of respondents said they had attempted suicide sometime in their life. Almost half of that population. The cisgendered normalized ideas of gender is negatively affecting mental health from an internal perspective as well as an external. Even as individuals begin to accept themselves, this mental health concern can arise again. “I have experienced symptoms of depression that has surfaced after I started my transition.” says Beck, showing that even when they’re getting to a place where they feel more comfortable, it presses a high weight upon them.