Why Include the T?
Lambda Legal's Transgender Rights Attorney, M. Dru Levasseur, weighs in on why it's crucial to include transgender people in the fight for LGBT rights.
"How many transgender people are there?" I'm often asked this question by people inside and outside of the LGBT community, and by reporters, scholars, students and attorneys. They want to know how many people we are talking about when we refer to the letter "T" in the LGBT. Sometimes, the underlying sentiment is, "Why are we focusing on such a small population of people who seem to have such different issues than us?"
While some estimates have been made about how many transgender people are in the U.S., there is no definitive answer. The U.S. Census has yet to include more than two options for gender on its survey. Until it does, my answer to that question depends on the definition of "transgender." According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Reference Guide, the term "transgender" is defined in part as "an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth." Gender identity is one's internal sense of gender. Gender expression is the external manifestation of one's gender identity. According to this definition, transgender people may include transsexuals, cross-dressers, and gender-variant people, including effeminate men, masculine women, and anyone else whose gender expression does not fit the stereotypical norm. There may be more of us than you might think.
|Intersection of Policy & Law
by Flor Bermudez
Youth in Out-of-Home Care Attorney
Despite growing acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) people, LGBTQ youth commonly still face rejection and hostility from their families, peers, schools and other institutions. It is estimated that approximately 26 percent of gay male youth were forced to leave their families of origin as a result of conflicts with their parents regarding their sexual orientation. LGBTQ youth also face discrimination in schools, where all too often they are subjected to verbal and physical harassment at the hands of their peers and staff. These factors leave LGBTQ young people at very high risk of physical violence, substance abuse, unsafe sex and even suicide. These risk factors can also contribute to LGBTQ youth being in the custody of juvenile justice and delinquency systems in disproportionate numbers.
Lambda Legal applauds Miriam Edelstein of Reed Smith for her hard work on the L.P. v. City of Philadelphia matter in which a transgender girl was subjected to severe verbal and physical abuse while in the custody of the Youth Study Center, a secure juvenile detention facility in Philadelphia. Edelstein continues to be an enormous asset as the case moves forward in its early stages.
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