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Transgender Awareness Week

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia 495 401 cj

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

By Leo Kirkham

The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia is celebrated on May 17 every year.

The holiday was imagined in 2004 by grassroots activists, and commemorated for the first time on May 17, 2005. The day of May 17 was chosen to represent the day in 1990 that the World Health Organization removed “homosexuality” from its classifications of mental disorders.

The committee of grassroots activists went by the acronym IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia). In 2009, the phrase transphobia was added to recognize the violence and discrimination against transgender people. By 2015, biphobia was added as well, to recognize the unique discrimination experienced by bisexual, pansexual, and other multisexual people. The complete acronym is now IDAHOBIT, recognizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people together.

Petitions were launched by IDAHOBIT in 2005 and 2009, attracting historical support from many non-profit organizations and countries across the world. In 2005, activities for the day took place worldwide, including the first LGBTQ events ever to take place in the Congo, China, and Bulgaria. In 2009, when transphobia was added to the campaign, the petition was supported by more than 300 non-governmental organizations from more than 75 countries, as well as three Nobel Prize winners. Shortly before May 17, 2009, France became the first country in the world to remove transgender people from their list of mental disorders.

The goal of the day is to create an event that can be visible at the global level without requiring a specific form of action, allowing LGBTQ people and allies to approach the day in a way that feels authentic and actionable for them. Petitions, protests, marches, letters to newspapers, letters to politicians, celebrations, and more are welcome on the IDAHOBIT. The goal is a worldwide day of raising awareness and taking action.

How will you take action this May 17?

  • Post on social media: Find an IDAHOBIT media kit here and here and post with the hashtag #IDAHOBIT2023
  • Join your local school board meetings and speak up in support of LGBTQ students
  • Join your local neighborhood council meetings and speak up in support of LGBTQ rights in your neighborhood
  • Write to your local politicians and vote!
  • Write a letter to the editor for your local paper supporting transgender rights
  • Listen to music by transgender musicians
  • Watch TV and movies starring transgender actors
  • And last but not least, VOLUNTEER with Kaleidoscope! We can use your help this summer, whether it’s at a social event or a resource fair, to support our LGBTQ+ youth and give them safe spaces to connect with each other and be their authentic selves.

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, thank you for reading and taking the time to honor International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.

Allies: Speak Up on the Day of Silence
Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence 496 401 cj

Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence

Allies: Speak Up on the Day of Silence

Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence

By Leo Kirkham

We all remember – or for some of us, currently experience – how cruel kids can be in school. Bullying is a major problem for students who are marginalized in some way, whether it’s kids of color experiencing racism, disabled children experiencing ableism, or LGBTQ kids experiencing homophobia and transphobia.

52% of LGBTQ middle and high school students report being bullied in school or over the internet. These numbers are higher for middle schoolers (65%), transgender and nonbinary students (61%), Native and Indigenous students (70%), and multiracial students (54%).

Mistreatment by others, including bullying, is a strong and consistent risk factor for youth suicide. Youth who are bullied are three times more likely to attempt suicide. This is true whether the bullying takes place in person at school or online.

However, LGBTQ students who report that their schools are LGBTQ-affirming are less likely to be bullied, by 30% (The Trevor Project).

Started in the mid-90s by two college students, the National Day of Silence is an annual day of action to raise awareness about the effects of bullying and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning students. Students – both LGBTQ and allies – who participate in the Day of Silence spend the entire day without speaking, to represent the way that bullying and harassment silences LGBTQ youth.

What can you do to honor the Day of Silence? Speak up! LGBTQ youth need adult allies to talk to their school administrators and teachers. Attend a school board meeting and voice your support for an LGBTQ-affirming school environment and anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies. Support LGBTQ-history and inclusive sex education. Support gender-neutral bathrooms in your local schools. A great example of affirming and safe spaces are The Help Group schools and Kaleidoscope programs.

Bullying is a significant area of concern for LGBTQ youth, particularly Native youth, transgender and nonbinary youth, and middle school students. Taking action to support bullied students can save lives.

For resources and support on how to support your LGBTQ+ students and youth, please reach out to us with any questions at [email protected].

Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility
Celebrating National Transgender Day of Visibility 495 400 cj

Celebrating National Transgender Day of Visibility

Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility

Celebrating National Transgender Day of Visibility 2023

By Leo Kirkham

National Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated on March 31, was founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandall as a response to the lack of holidays celebrating transgender people, citing frustration that the only well-known transgender holiday was the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Day of Visibility is a day to celebrate the transgender community and our diverse experiences and identities. It is a day to celebrate trans joy and the ways that transgender people are alive and well and living joyous, fulfilling lives.

Yes, trans people experience discrimination and tragedy, but that is not our whole story. We also experience love, friendship, happiness, chosen family, and long, happy lives. Here are five ways to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility and honor your transgender sisters, brothers, and siblings.

1. Attend or volunteer at a local Transgender Day of Visibility event and celebrate with others in the community.

2. Follow and engage with transgender advocates and organizations on social media. Some people and groups to follow are:

3. Reach out to transgender people in your life and show them your support.

  • Check in about your loved one’s pronouns and name – their feelings may have changed, and they may wish to be referred to by a different name or pronoun.
  • Ask if your loved one wants help legally changing their name or starting a medical transition.
  • Ask your loved one how you can best support them in their journey and identity.

4. Educate yourself on transgender-related topics to be more informed and to better understand the community.

Some topics to research include:

  • Transgender homelessness
  • Transgender employment
  • Transgender housing
  • Transgender healthcare access
  • Transgender mental health
  • Nonbinary identities
  • Transgender education, students’ rights in school
  • Transgender media representation
  • Violence against transgender people
  • Marginalization of transgender women of color; intersectionality

5. Donate to organizations that are working to advance transgender rights and equality.

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, we want our Trans community to know that we see you, we hear you, and we uplift your stories and voices.

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week
Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week 495 401 cj

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

By Leo Kirkham

Five Topics to Learn About This Transgender Awareness Week

It’s Transgender Awareness Week, which runs from November 13 to 19, 2022 and culminates in National Trangender Day of Remembrance, November 20.

What is Transgender Day of Remembrance?

November 20 is the National Transgender Day of Remembrance, which started as a vigil for Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1998. Founded by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith, the vigil honored all transgender people lost to anti-trans violence that year, and became an annual observance.

One way to be a trans ally is to attend a local Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil. The vigil often involves reading a list of names of transgender people who died that year. Gender Justice LA is hosting a vigil and so is LA CA Network.

What are transgender youth facing right now?

In the current culture, there is a strong anti-trans backlash against the social progress that has been made for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Transgender youth are facing the brunt of this backlash, under the guise of “protecting children” from the “harm” of progressive gender norms.

In Florida, all transgender youth undergoing medical transition are being detransitioned and banned from receiving gender-affirming medical care. Many other states are considering bills to restrict or ban transition-related medical care for minors, and even for adults. Still other states are banning transgender students from participating in sports – even in states where there are no out transgender students trying to compete in sports.

According to the Trevor Project, 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health. More than half of transgender and nonbinary youth considered suicide in the past year.

Is the news all bad?

No When transgender and nonbinary youth live with people who respect their pronouns, they attempt suicide at half the rate as trans and nonbinary youth who lives with people who don’t. Trans and nonbinary youth are less suicidal when their schools, homes, and online spaces are transgender-affirming. And when those trans and nonbinary youth have access to gender affirming name changes and birth marker changes on legal documents, they have lower suicide attempts (Trevor Project).

In short: If you are a parent to a transgender youth and you are reading this, your child is safer and has better mental health as a direct result of your love and support.

Additionally, progress is being made nationally for transgender and LGBTQ rights. At least 16 states and Washington D.C. are ranked as “high” for gender equality, according to the Movement Advancement Project. That’s where 45% of the LGBTQ population lives. In 2020, the Supreme Court held that LGBTQ employees are protected from workplace discrimination. In 2021, the Biden administration extended Title IX protections to transgender students by requiring that schools receiving federal funding not discriminate on the basis of gender identity (U Chicago).

What about transgender history? Where can I learn about that?

Transgender people are in the news a lot right now – but we’re not new. We’ve been around for thousands of years, as long as human culture has.

Since ancient times, hijras in India and kathoeys in Thailand have formed social and spiritual communities with each other, centered around a transfeminine third gender role. Before European colonization and in modern times, North American Indigenous cultures have recognized Two-Spirit identities: people who reach beyond the traditional male and female gender roles. There were Roman priests and a Roman emperor (Elagabalus) believed to be trans women.

In more modern history, the early 1900s saw the first gender affirmation surgeries. Much progress was made by Magnus Hirschfeld at the German Institute of Sex Research for transgender medicine and trans rights, before his work was destroyed by the Nazi Party in 1933. In 1952, American trans woman Christine Jorgensen’s gender transition brought awareness to North America of sex reassignment surgery.

Lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender people fought back against police violence in the 1959 Coopers Donuts Riots, 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, and the 1969 Stonewall Riots. In the 1970s, Lou Sullivan started FTM International and pioneered visibility for gay trans men. At the same time, feminist groups began to resist the inclusion of trans women in their spaces, which has become known as trans-exclusionary radical feminism. In the 1980s, trans women were victims of the AIDS crisis alongside gay and bisexual men. By the 1990s and 2000s, the Transgender Day of Remembrance had begun and trans marches were gaining popularity. Trans people began to be elected to public offices, and legislation began to recognize the rights of people regardless of gender identity and expression (Wikipedia).

What else should I educate myself on as an ally?

Some important issues to be aware of as an ally are intersectionality and the ways that transgender people of color are doubly impacted by racism and transphobia. For example, Black trans people and other trans people of color are more likely to be discriminated against in a job, be homeless, experience interpersonal violence, or experience mental health problems. Trans people of color have higher rates of poverty and more barriers to receiving gender affirming medical care and legal name and gender marker changes (National LGBTQ Taskforce).

Transgender people are diverse. We come in as many varieties as you can imagine. Which means that trans people carry other marginalized identities alongside being transgender: trans people can be gay, lesbian, or bisexual as well; we can be disabled or neurodivergent; we can be people of color; we can be poor, homeless, or incarcerated. Being aware of the issues facing transgender people and other diverse groups in society is the first step to being a good trans ally.

Happy Transgender Awareness Week. Thank you for reading and learning with us.