Transgender and non-binary people are people whose gender is not the one assigned at birth, unlike cisgender people. This is due to the difference between sex and gender, sex being a biological characteristic while gender is a social construct. It is estimated that there are 0.6% of transgender and non-binary people in America. Rarely represented in daily life, they suffer from all kinds of oppression, which Dr. Killian Kinney studies through hir various publications.
These oppressions are manifested in many elements and in many contexts. The study "Intersecting Experiences of Healthcare Denials Among Transgender and Nonbinary Patients" highlights the lack of support felt by social work students. Professors assume that students are all cisgender heterosexual, and when this is not the case, they then expect the person to be a professional in LGBT issues, putting pressure on them.
Through a 20-50 minute interview of 12 participants, the denial of students transgender experiences is highlighted. Between the use of the wrong pronouns, assumptions about why they are transgender, or even the prejudicial speech that each student experiences, students experience an overwhelming amount of discrimination. Furthermore, this harmful speech is often ignored by other students and professors, and it is the victims who must directly defend themselves in most cases, although rare interruptions by professors do exist.
In response to these oppressions, some students try to keep a low profile; others have the opposite reaction. This constant stress can lead to lower grades, increased alcohol and drug use, and poor mental health.
Health is also a concern. "Does it get better? LGBTQ social work students and experiences with harmful discourse" reminds us that in primary care, mental health care, and other specific healthcare needs based on their gender identity, the needs of transgender and non-binary people are often denied. A U.S. survey estimates that approximately 33% of transgender and non-binary people have had negative experiences when trying to seek care from a health care provider. These individuals are 2.34 times more likely to be denied care in their lifetime than cisgender individuals. In addition, people who have been denied access to care once avoid returning.
In addition to physical and verbal abuse, there are other discriminations. Black transgender women are more often denied access to care than white transgender women. Racism, disability, poverty, age, lack of education, trans identity is one more barrier to all the other discriminations that prevent access to health care.
These examples are just a few of the many barriers faced by transgender and non-binary people. Yet some patients report positive experiences in medicine, primarily when providers use inclusive and respectful language, demonstrating the willingness of caregivers to change. Social science directors also have this willingness, although the results are not present, making real training important.
Continuing education could, if not end, at least decrease the difficulties transgender and non-binary people face. In medicine, training on good practices, such as inclusive intake forms, gender-appropriate restrooms, encouraging providers to share their own pronouns with all patients are just a few examples. For faculty, teaching them how to respond to prejudicial speech and how to address issues of homophobia and transphobia could enable them to better support students of all identities.
Currently, anti-transgender laws are being passed in the United States. Among other things, they prohibit transgender women and girls from participating in sports. Proof, if any were needed, that the struggle for LGBT rights is far from over.