Why We Need Transgender Awareness Week

Transgender Awareness Week (TAW) takes place annually the week before 20 November, the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Awareness Week is a chance for transgender people and their allies to bring attention to the community in a positive way by educating the public about transgender issues, sharing stories and experiences, and advancing advocacy. The hope is that this education will aid in decreasing acts of prejudice, discrimination and violence against the transgender community.

Each year TAW leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance. On 20 November we take time to honour the individuals who have lost their lives in the last 365 days as a result of acts of anti-trans violence. Since 2008 approximately 3000 transgender people have been reported killed in 72 countries, often in vile and vulgar ways.

TAW is particularly important in 2019 as we are experiencing a rise in LGBT+ hate crimes and violent attacks. This is something we are experiencing in the UK as well as around the world. Organisations such as ‘LGB Alliance’ are fighting to erase the rights of transgender people. ‘Get The L Out’, a group who think that trans activism erases lesbianism, were allowed to march at the front of the London Pride Parade in 2018. There is also a huge mental health crisis among the trans community. Internationally, the Trump administration continues to strip trans people in America of their rights, and South America is only becoming more dangerous for transgender people, with the death toll rising year on year.

Throughout this Transgender Awareness Week, LGBT+ Society and Feminism Society have been organising events focused on creating a greater sense of community on campus among transgender students, as well as educating the wider community at Royal Holloway on how to be better allies to trans people.

Why do we need to have these events at Royal Holloway?

An increasing number of young people are coming out as transgender and it is incredibly important to allow these individuals to study in a safe and supportive environment. University is so much more than a degree to many transgender students. It is a way to move away from an unsupportive family to a safe environment, and it is a chance to meet people like them.

It is also a chance to discover more about themselves outside of their trans identity, through their studies as well as sports and societies on campus. Despite these wonderful things, which university can provide, Stonewall’s 2018 University report found that many transgender students have negative experiences at university:

  • 36% of trans students faced negative comments or conduct from university staff in the last year because they are trans
  • 60% of trans students have been the target of negative comments or conduct from other students
  • 7% of trans students were physically attacked by another student or a member of university staff in the last year because of being trans
  • 20% of trans students were encouraged by university staff to hide or disguise that they are trans
  • 23% of LGBT students say that their university doesn’t demonstrate visible commitment to trans equality

So much more needs to be done in the name of trans rights, but hopefully the events put on this week will teach people about how to be a better ally, or help trans people on campus feel more comfortable at university.

There will be a vigil held on Wednesday 20 November in the Chapel from 14:15 to 15:15 open for anyone to attend.  

Felix Jordan // LGBT+ Collective Convenor