It’s Trans Awareness Week: Here Are 5 Major Issues the Community Faces

Despite some visible strides, we still have a long way to go to ensure transgender equality across the board.

November 14th through 20th marks National Trans Awareness Week in America. Since 1998, members of the trans community and their allies have gathered annually to raise consciousness and advocacy in light of the disproportionate systemic barriers they face nationwide and within the LGBTQ community. The week leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th), which reflects on the transphobic deaths countless members of the community have suffered.

And while there has been an increase in trans advocacy work and visibility across political, social, and media platforms, states like Pennsylvania still have more work to do toward ensuring the equal protection and security of trans individuals. Here are five major issues that are still affecting the trans community.

Trans murders are growing.

So far, 2016 is the worst year on record for transgender murders nationwide. LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD reported that 24 transgender people were murdered, exceeding last year’s count of 22. Most of the victims are trans women of color.

Trans poverty is still an issue.

Estimates show that 1 out of 5 transgender people faces housing insecurity from unstable situations to homelessness. Further, transgender people are four times more likely than the general population to live in extreme poverty (making less than $10,000 a year) while also being more than twice as likely as the general population to be homeless, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Various factors, such as family rejection and housing/employment discrimination, play a strong role in these outcomes.

HIV/AIDS still disproportionately affect trans people.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that nearly a third of transgender Americans are HIV-positive, including 56 percent of black trans women. It’s apparently hard for researchers to routinely report on these numbers given the complex tracking of various gender identities within the system.

The suicide rate among the trans community is still high.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, 41 percent of transgender people try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6 percent of the general public. Contributing factors inlcude bullying, gender-identity-related trauma, and systemic discrimination.

There are still no federal laws to protect trans people from housing, employment, and public accommodation discrimination.

A lack of federal and statewide laws protecting gender identity are a root cause of many of the previous issues. Currently, the United States has not passed the Equality Act, a federal law which would include gender identity as a factor in non-discrimination of housing, employment and public accommodation for all LGBTQ individuals. Right now Pennsylvania has yet to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would provide such protections on the state level. Partisan politics are the reason both of these bills are still on the table. If passed, they would significantly help to reverse a lot of the regressive outcomes for transgender individuals living in America.