Transcending Hate: Emerging Challenges and Threats to the Trans Community
PART 1: AN OVERVIEW
Over the past few months, the transgender community has increasingly come into the spotlight as we fight for recognition, rights, and acceptance in a world that often misunderstands or discriminates against us. This series of articles, “Transcending Hate,” aims to delve into the various emerging challenges facing us as transgender people.
By examining anti-trans legislation, violence, and online harassment, we’ll explore the impact of harmful rhetoric perpetuated by influential public figures and far-right activists and the consequences of such rhetoric on transgender individuals’ mental health and well-being. We’ll also look at the role of allyship and community support in combating these issues and the importance of ensuring those in power are held accountable for their responsibility for creating a safe and inclusive environment for all.
In addition, we’ll look at specific examples of anti-trans rhetoric from online influencers like Matt Walsh and Andy Ngo, examining the dangerous influence they wield and the responsibility that comes with their platforms. Exposing their misinformation and fear-mongering tactics will hopefully encourage readers to question the narratives they encounter and seek out accurate, reliable sources of information about the trans community.
Ultimately, “Transcending Hate’’ seeks to shed light on the amazing resilience and strength of the trans community, even in the face of adversity. By highlighting the various challenges we face, the aim is to foster empathy, understanding, and support for trans people and to contribute to the broader progress of LGBTQ+ rights and equality.
In recent years, the United States has witnessed a concerning increase in the proposal and passage of anti-trans laws across the country. These discriminatory policies, often framed as measures to protect public safety or traditional values, have targeted transgender folks in various aspects of our daily lives. For example, 2021 saw a record number of anti-trans bills introduced, with more than 100 bills in over 30 states, and this trend has continued into subsequent years (Kossof, 2021). These legislative efforts not only undermine the civil rights of transgender people but also contribute to a hostile environment that fosters violence and harassment against us.
The escalating number of anti-trans laws corresponds with a growing threat of violence against trans folks in the United States. According to the FBI, hate crimes against transgender people continue to rise, with a significant increase in reported cases in recent years (FBI Hate Crime Statistics, 2021). This alarming trend is particularly concerning for transgender women of color, who disproportionately bear the brunt of this violence (Human Rights Campaign, 2021). In addition to physical violence, transgender folks face harassment and discrimination in various spheres of life, such as housing, employment, and education. These issues highlight the urgent need for greater awareness, legal protections, and broad movement support for the transgender community.
Since Elon Musk bought Twitter, the platform has seen a disturbing rise in bullying, bigotry, and calls for genocide targeting trans people (Jarrell, 2023). In addition, many users and activists have raised concerns about the company’s policies and moderation practices, which some argue have contributed to an environment that tolerates and encourages hate speech (Frenkel and Conger, 2022). This increasingly toxic atmosphere on Twitter has not only resulted in more significant emotional distress and fear for trans users but has also fueled offline violence and discrimination. The connection between Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the massive escalation of anti-trans rhetoric on that site is no coincidence, as we’ll see later in the series, and highlights the critical role social media platforms like Twitter play in shaping public opinion and attitudes regarding culture war issues.
Over the next week, this series of articles will delve deeper into the issues and examples raised here. They will explore the connections between this recent surge in anti-trans sentiment and the broader context of increased activity and boldness among the MAGA movement of extremist, authoritarian, supremacist right-wingers over the past decade. Tomorrow, Part 2 in this five-article series, “The Escalation of Anti-Trans Laws and Second Class Citizenship,” will look at the uptick in anti-trans legislation going through state governments since the failure of the religious right to prevent the legalization of gay marriage and other victories for queer rights over the past couple decades.
- Kosoff, Taylor. “The Republican war on trans Americans is escalating.” Vox, 16 September 2021, https://www.vox.com/politics/23631262/trans-bills-republican-state-legislatures. Accessed May 1, 2023.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation. “2021 Hate Crime Statistics.” U.S. Department of Justice, 2021, https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/hate-crime-statistics. Accessed April 22, 2023.
- Human Rights Campaign. “New Analysis Shows Startling Levels of Discrimination Against Black Transgender People.” https://www.thetaskforce.org/new-analysis-shows-startling-levels-of-discrimination-against-black-transgender-people. Accessed April 28, 2023.
- Jarrell, Zachary. “For LGBTQ+ People, Musk’s Twitter Is Both Hateful and Essential.” Los Angeles Blade, January 3, 2023, https://www.losangelesblade.com/2023/01/03/for-lgbtq-people-musks-twitter-is-both-hateful-and-essential. Accessed April 25, 2023.
- Frenkel, Sheera, and Conger, Kate. “Twitter Struggles to Combat Hate Speech on the Platform.” The New York Times, December 2, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/02/technology/twitter-hate-speech.html. Accessed April 18, 2023.