Everyday Activities Continue To Be A Challenge For Trans People
Earlier this month, Rose Montoya went viral after she posted a TikTok detailing her experience of going through airport security as a trans woman.
The video, which has now been viewed more than 20 million times, offers a stark illustration of just one of the challenges trans people navigate on a daily basis.
While making her way onto a flight, Rose had to disclose she was trans after the female security scanner alarm sounded because of an anomaly between her legs.
She then offered to walk through the male scanner, which also sounded the alarm. When Rose eventually offered to be patted down, the TSA worker asked if she would like to be patted down by a man.
@rosalynnemontoyaWe need to change how the scanners function and educate TSA about trans people. ##tsa ##trans ##transgender ##transphobia ##transphobic ##travel♬ original sound – Rose Montoya
As per statistics published by the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2015, 43% of trans people who passed through US airport security the year before reported a negative screening experience.
Despite her shocking recount, Rose says the security process with Transportation Security Administration was actually one of her better experiences travelling as a transgender woman in the US.
‘That’s saying a lot because it wasn’t a good experience, I was still harassed, I was still misgendered and I was still discriminated against,’ she says.
Discrimination against trans communities is bleeding into US legislation. Last month, three states introduced new laws which ban transgender girls from competing in female sports teams.
In response to news that the bill had passed in Arkansas, Human Rights Campaign said the law laid bare ‘the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact’.
Verity Smith, a trans inclusion in sports youth worker at Mermaids explains that these exclusionary policies have long-term effects on young children.
In October 2020 the international governing body for rugby, World Rugby, issued new guidelines barring trans women from playing women’s contact rugby because of ‘risks to players’ welfare’.
While the ban only stops trans women from competing at an elite level, Verity says it strips young transgender girls of their dream to play international rugby.
‘This lack of inspiration can have a real effect on children’s mental and physical health,’ he says.
‘A lot of people who are making those decisions have never even spoken to the trans community. We need sports to start having a look at their policies, instead of exclusionary policies let’s have inclusion,’ he adds.
Last week, a UK high court ruled that parents of transgender children can now apply for them to be given puberty blockers without having to apply for a court’s approval. Under the new precedent, transgender children under the age of 16 will still need their parent’s consent before they are eligible to receive the treatment.
While the ruling goes some way in tearing down the barriers transgender children face when transitioning, Alex Woolhouse, pro bono and legal strategy co-ordinator at Mermaids, says that even without the need for court approval NHS waiting times to see a gender specialist can be as long as 36 months.
Additionally, she says the ruling only helps those who have supportive parents.
‘If parents aren’t supportive of the child, then the child cannot do what they may think, or indeed what the doctor may think is in their best interests,’ she adds.
Speaking of her own experience, she says she grew up in a time not knowing the word transgender, or what it meant.
‘I didn’t know that my own identity existed. I grew up religious in a small town in the middle of nowhere. So, I was the first trans person I ever knew.
Even as a trans woman, she recalls not being comfortable with the trans identity when she first learned of it.
‘We grow up in a world that is not made for trans people. There is systemic transphobia. I’ve always been trans, but I didn’t know that I could be, because I didn’t know it existed.
‘I always felt different but I never had the language or the knowledge to explain what that meant, so I just lived in this confusion until I realised that I’m attracted to men,’ she explains, adding that at first, she thought her being gay explained away her feminacy.
‘And then 2015, I finally realised: no trans people exist, and I’m trans,’ she says.
Rose has previously shared videos of herself, aged four, telling her mother ‘I’m a girl, I’m Rose’.
‘I’ve always called myself Rose. So it’s funny how, even though I didn’t know the word transgender, I was very clearly communicating to my parents who I am.
While both trans men and women are subject to widespread transphobia, Black trans women face the highest levels of discrimination and anti-trans violence.
In 2020, Human Rights Campaign recorded the deaths of at least 44 transgender or gender non-conforming people who were killed violently.
The advocacy group noted that the actual figure may be higher as many of these stories go unreported. The majority of the acts of violence were against Black and Latinx transgender women, with 21 of those killed being Black.
Toni Bryce, an actor based in Atlanta, says her trans experience is secondary to her identity as a Black woman.
‘When you meet me, you see a Black woman. My trans experience is another conversation down the line,’ she explains.
She says that while language within the trans community has evolved to recognise differences between groups, often, cis-gender people will use ‘trans’ as an umbrella term to put all trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people in a box.
In order to be effective allies, she implores people to ‘stop using language that contributes to the violence’ against marginalised groups, especially against Black women of trans experience within Black communities.
‘Our language has evolved, but I’ve seen that a lot of people are reluctant to do the work and make changes,’ she says.
She adds: ‘When I’m not in the room and your brother or cousin are talking about me, misgendering me, are you correcting them? When they see one of us on TV and make uneducated remarks, are you checking those remarks, are you challenging them to think higher and be better people?’
‘That’s a lot of what we are missing. We need to stand up for each other and protect one another against violators,’ she says.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers.