Transgender People in the US
The transgender and gender nonconforming community still struggles to be accepted by mainstream society. By not identifying with their assigned gender, not only do members of the transgender community have a harder time finding a sense of belonging, they’re also far more frequently exposed to danger than cisgender people are. Year after year, they are the victims of violent attacks, just for being who they are.
Estimates back in 2016 suggested that around 1 million adults in the United States identify as transgender, a number that certainly doesn’t include those who have yet to make their gender identification public yet. This data also doesn’t account for people who are genderfluid and don’t have a fixed gender identity, but flow between different ones.
What is clear, however, is that trans people often suffer from overt discrimination. This is especially harmful to members of this community that struggle to get the emotional and mental support they need from their communities and health providers, making them all the more susceptible to becoming suicidal.
So how do transgender people get the support they need? How can they become integrated into a community without being concerned about their safety? What measures are being taken to ensure they don’t suffer from discrimination and obtain equal rights?
Some legal action has been taken on these fronts. Laws have been passed to legitimize a person’s right to identify with a gender other than what was assigned to them, making their gender official legally. The Fair Housing Act was a measure taken to make it illegal to discriminate against any member of the LGBTQ+ community interested in renting or purchasing property because of their gender or sexuality.
Passing laws to ensure equal rights is a big step in the right direction. Organizations like GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders have made it their mission to drive public policy and offer legal backing to ensure equality for anyone regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. More importantly, a growing number of organizations are helping to build a sense of community among those who’ve often felt like they have nowhere to turn.
Organizations for Transgender People
It’s no easy task to provide safe spaces for a small vulnerable community often ostracized or directly attacked by the mainstream culture. Fortunately a lot of work has been done and now transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, and genderfluid people have more resources than ever before to seek help, get support, and enjoy healthy interactions with those who won’t discriminate against them for being gender nonconforming
Even though the acronym stands for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, it’s one of the most important organizations to provide support to the entire LGBTQ+ community. Since 1985, GLAAD has been defending and fighting for the rights of those who don’t identify with their assigned gender or with any gender.
Using a strategic media program, the transgender staff at the organization has worked hard to get their stories out to the world. Such efforts have helped build community across the country (and the world) among trans people demanding recognition and equality. App developers currently seek out their expertise in order to make their categories suitable for all genders and sexualities.
They have a section on their website linking to a wide range of resources specifically for the trans community. This way members can connect to many different transgender support groups and organizations. The immense list of trans chats, hotlines, community platforms, suicide prevention phone numbers, along with more organizations dedicated to the cause, ensures that transgender people have no shortage of resources to choose from.
This project is a unique way of creating awareness in a country with over 21 states that allow people to be fired because of their gender identity and sexual orientation. Created by Tillet Wright, the Self Evident Truths project wants the world to see the humanity in the faces of the LGBTQ+ community.
She took pictures of 10,000 people, who either aren’t completely straight, don’t identify with their assigned gender, or don’t fit any gender category. Their pictures showed the faces of a community that’s as human as it is diverse. The intention is to challenge people’s biases and prejudice, to make them see that the discriminatory laws they support are hurting others, simply because of who they are.
Their pictures and stories are helping the world understand that two categories for sex and gender oversimplify a wonderfully vast and intricate spectrum that should be embraced, not condemned. The database of relevant photos and stories online continues to grow and connect with Americans who, aside from baseless stigmas, know nothing about the LGBTQ+ community. The project encourages cisgender people to lend a helping hand.
Both a hotline and non-profit organization, the Trans Lifeline has become a platform for members of the trans community to get emotional and legal support, therapy, and employment aid.
It started off as a hotline for trans people in a crisis, suffering from suicidal thoughts and depression, and in need to talk with someone without feeling judged. The operators working there, transgender people themselves, have logged thousands of hours of therapeutic counseling. Over the years, the organization’s services have grown to include financial grants and legal aid, vital for people confronting discriminatory laws in every sector of society.
Possibly the most comprehensive organization out there, the Trevor Project offers a wide range of services to members of the LGBTQ+ community under 25.
It brings together networking platforms, suicide prevention programs, trans support hotlines with chats and text messages, training workshops, community centers, advocacy movements, a handbook for coming out, and more. It makes sure trans people in as many regions as possible in the US, can get immediate assistance and join peer groups near them.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) is a non-profit academic organization that carries out thorough research and development in health related fields. It aims to improve the lives of transgender and gender nonconforming people worldwide.
Its interdisciplinary programs promote further understanding and improved treatment of gender dysphoria. The professionals involved in the organization are experts in areas ranging from medicine, psychology, psychotherapy, speech and voice therapy, to law, social work, family studies, sociology and anthropology.
With the goal of creating a world inclusive of all genders, the organization educates families and institutions on gender identities that don’t fit the traditional binary categories.
Gender Spectrum’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center (CAGC) fosters well-being and acceptance among families with transgender members, while offering personalized healthcare to those struggling with gender dysphoria. The organization offers training materials and guides on how to further integrate trans people into their respective communities. Their Gender Spectrum Lounge invites trans people to connect by sharing their stories and experiences.
Gender Diversity has a dedicated staff and lots of volunteers helping families and communities accept and understand their gender diverse members. Parents and siblings can learn how to identify the telltale signs that one of their family members doesn’t identify with their assigned gender or is non-binary.
They learn how to show their trans family members’ support and care to encourage self-acceptance, which is vital for the delicate process of coming out. Gender Diversity’s trained professionals hold gatherings, international conferences, and workshops focused on fostering solidarity between the trans community and their cisgender peers, to create mutual acceptance and tolerance.
One of the largest organizations out there for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies, it has at least 400 chapters and over 200,000 members in nearly all 50 states in the US. PFLAG’s vast network contributes to the organization’s online learning programs, advocacy support groups, and media training workshops. Members have access to guides on important actions they can take, such as lobbying and joining coalitions.
Straight for Equality is the organization’s educational outreach program that recruits cisgender allies in solidarity with trans people’s rights. Not only does the program make sure such allies understand the importance of supporting LGBTQ+ people, it teaches them how effective action can be taken in everyday situations and interactions.
A TransYouth Family Ally (TYFA) in this organization makes it their personal mission to support the rights of trans people.
TYFA creates partnerships with educators, healthcare professionals, learning centers, legislators, and agencies, in order to combat discrimination and foster a growing sense of community that includes all forms of gender expression. Like some of the other organizations listed, it wants families and peer groups to know how to encourage the trans and non-binary members among them to affirm their true gender identity.
Online Communities for Trans People
There are a few online platforms for members of the trans community to get therapy and support or to enjoy a safe space for networking and dating. It’s well known that harassment and verbal abuse often follow them onto social networking sites — and those sites often fail to uphold their own moderation policies.
While developers have attempted to create a secure, more inclusive platform for the LGBTQ+ community, those who are transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, and genderfluid still often find themselves getting singled out — even by lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
Then there’s the dehumanizing fetishes that trans people often face. They find themselves being objectified in humiliating ways because of their gender. They also get accused of making their identities up and getting talked down to as if they need to wake up from some delusion.
It’s therefore challenging for trans people to find an online platform that’s conducive to making meaningful connections, not only with others like themselves, but also with queer and heterosexual cisgender people. Let’s look at some apps and online communities making progress with building a harmonious community for trans people and the entire spectrum of gender.
One of the newest networking apps out there, its mission is to provide a safe protected space for transgender and gender nonconforming people to have positive interactions with each other and their cisgender allies.
Fiori takes security to another level by requiring its users to sign up with both a phone number and password, making it harder for someone to open another account should they get banned for misconduct. Enforcing their protocol for respectful behavior is done by having reports of any problems reviewed manually, to avoid people getting automatically and unfairly banned.
Fiori also offers to help fund the costs for its trans users’ transition goals. The app makers have a funding program to provide financial support for trans people’s gender transitions. Such a unique feature vindicates people’s right to be who they are and not conform to unfair simplistic norms imposed upon them.
Fiori stands at the forefront of a new era in which people accept and embrace the entire spectrum of human sexuality and gender. It’s one big step in the struggle to create a thriving community that includes all identities.
This app brings together peer support and advice for mental health in one place. Designed for young transgender and gender nonconforming people, users share carefully vetted resources for financial and legal aid, healthcare services, and have access to emergency hotlines.
Such an app fosters community among “transgender-spectrum youth” (TSY) so that they can get help from those with the right expertise, and also support each other.
The social networking branch of The Trevor Project, this online platform helps the LGTBQ+ youth (13-24 years) around the world connect with each other.
It’s a place to get support and make friends, without worrying about getting mistreated or fetishized. Users discuss relevant topics to get advice on how to deal with discrimination and harassment, as well as offensive remarks from cisgender family, friends, and strangers. It even has a writer’s club which encourages people with similar interests to share their stories.
A transgender support group on Facebook with almost 10,000 members, it cultivates positive, respectful interactions between members of the trans community and their allies. People can exchange ideas, chat, plan meetups, date, and more. The rules are clear: no nude pictures or sleazy comments and zero tolerance for harassment and bullying.
Over 30,000 members of the LGBT community congregate on this Facebook group with their cisgender allies to engage in respectful discussions. There is no age requirement, which means topics are meant to be kept “PG.”
This Facebook group also offers support to the trans community and their allies of all ages. All new members are asked not to make any assumptions and to be mindful with their terminology. Anyone can join as long as they show sensitivity to the issues surrounding transgender and gender nonconforming people.
Both the website and its Facebook group encourage people to respectfully engage in challenging discussions and debates about the news and sensitive topics related to the transgender and non-binary community.
The intention is to do away with stigmas and negative stereotypes of trans people in mass media. The site has a forum for people who need advice on trans-related concerns. Emotional support is given to those struggling with gender dysphoria and educational resources to anyone wanting to learn about gender identity issues.
A straightforward trans support chat for quick and easy access to those needing to talk to someone who will listen without judgement. The website also has a section for news and general information related to the concerns of transgender and gender nonconforming people, as well as a long list of resources for extra support and aid. The trans support chat is live and also open to parents, siblings, and allies concerned about their transgender loved ones.
This online platform helps trans people get access to quality healthcare services, a process that can be challenging.
Trans people often find themselves being refused treatment because of their gender identity. My Transhealth attempts to solve this problem by offering a guided search for people based on their gender identity and location that puts users in touch with healthcare professionals sensitive to their concerns. The online support group also offers legal aid and crisis care.
The Future of Trans Support Groups
Whether online or in person, the fight for the trans community’s equal rights continues. As an app designed to help trans folks date, we feel that it’s important for us to do what we can to make the world a better place for transgender people.