Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day which brings attention to the global oppression of transgender people and our increased risk of abuse, violence, and discrimination. This blog is written by Renae Green, member of ACT! 2030 Jamaica. Renae is a 25 year old human and Trans rights advocate currently working as a volunteer with the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN), an organization that advocates for the Sexual and Reproductive health rights (SRHR) of Jamaican youth.
Transgender people are among the most marginalized people in our society. We often encounter serious difficulties accessing housing, health care, and employment. We frequently do not receive adequate protection under the law, and often face extreme violence and sometimes death. Systematic marginalization contributes to high rates of suicide and HIV as well. Statistics show that Trans women are 49 times more likely to acquire HIV than the general population. 41% of Trans people have attempted suicide.
Violence is motivated by person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This shows the level of homophobia and transphobia that exists within Jamaican society. Transgender individuals lack access in Jamaica to hormonal and surgical treatments for transition process causing many to seek alternative methods without the aid of trained professionals. Stigma and discrimination also act as a deterrent for Trans persons accessing health care: confidentiality issues, as well as fear of losing their lives, mean that many members of the Trans community do not access sexual and reproductive health services.
If things are to improve we need to modify existing laws and legislations so as to remove legal and policy barriers such as the non-recognition of the identities of Trans persons, and laws justifying transphobic violence. This will support Trans persons living in Jamaica fully participating in all areas of public life which would also be in up keeping with the SDG goals, specifically goals 5 and 10 which speak about gender equality and reduced inequalities, as well as goal 3 which has a target on ensuring universal sexual and reproductive health services and ending AIDS by 2030.
It is also important to provide young people with comprehensive sexuality education that teaches about human rights, identity, and gender equality, as a way of promoting inclusivity and preventing violence and abuse. We also need to train health care providers to deliver stigma-free services to ensure that Trans people are able to access the health care services we need.
Visibility is crucial in the fight against inequality. If we don’t take a public stand, then nothing will change. People of Trans experience and allies need to speak up for Trans rights and continue pushing for justice and equality for all.
Views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent those of the organizations that support this initiative, nor is the publishing of these blogs an endorsement. This space is provided for youth advocates to freely express their views on issues that affect them and relate to their work.