Jo from our Counselling, Health & Wellbeing Teams tells us more about Transgender Awareness Week and support for Cardiff Uni Students …
Recent years have seen important progress for trans related issues, with an increase in coverage in mainstream media about people who are transgender and several high profile ‘comings out’ and breakthrough moments that are helping to increase awareness.
This week, 14th-20th November, is Transgender Awareness Week and we are joining individuals and organisations around the country in helping to raise the visibility of transgender and non-conforming people, and address the issues these communities face.
High profile ‘comings out’ are increasing visibility
The former boxing promoter and woman previously known as Frank, gave an interview in August 2014 in which she publicly ‘came out’ as transgender in a British national newspaper. In April 2015, Kellie announced that her gender reassignment was complete.
Laverne, an American actress who is transgender, appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 2014 and shortly afterwards made front-page news again as the first transgender person to ever get nominated for an Emmy. In 2015 Laverne became the first openly transgender person to have a wax figure of herself at Madame Tussauds.
The 1976 Olympic champion previously known as Bruce revealed in April 2015 on American TV that she now publicly identifies as a woman; nearly 17 million people were watching. Caitlyn appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair 3 months later and is the first openly transgender woman ever to be featured.
These events come on the heels of a series of breakthrough moments on television that signal that attitudes toward transgender people have been shifting. Recent transgender storylines on TV such as “Glee”, “Orange Is the New Black” and “Transparent” suggest that there is an appetite for more inclusive and realistic storylines for transgender characters.
The stories of youth who identify as trans and gender nonconforming have also become the content of many documentaries and films: In ‘Louis Theroux: Transgender Kids’ (BBC Two), the presenter visited a pioneering San Francisco clinic, meeting children who believe they were born in the wrong body, and the medical professionals helping them make the transition to change sex at ever-younger ages.
With this increased visibility in popular culture and tabloid headlines, the national conversation around gender identity appears to have reached a new level, and 2015 may be remembered as the year the term “transgender” fully entered mainstream consciousness.
Increased visibility has not yet translated to broad tolerance
Transgender people are still subject to profound discrimination, rejection, hostility and violence. The number of hate crimes against transgender people continues to rise and increase in severity and there are still huge challenges that people who are trans face in accessing basic legal documents.
A research project by the NUS in 2014 demonstrated that transgender University students:
– are much more exposed to bullying and harassment;
– experience more physical and mental health problems;
– are twice as likely to have considered dropping out of University.
The research also highlighted that there is still a huge amount of ignorance amongst the population about trans issues, with many participants in the survey reporting being frequently mis-named, mis-gendered and constantly asked inappropriate questions about their sexuality or identity.
Support for Cardiff University students
If you are a Cardiff student experiencing any kind of difficulty, including distress related to gender issues, hate incidents, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia please make contact with us at Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service where we offer one-to-one support for any kind of issue. We have friendly and approachable staff who are able to listen to you non-judgmentally, in a safe and confidential space.
If you are experiencing difficulty in this area or have been the victim of a hate incident, please don’t hesitate to seek support from us. You can attend our daily drop-in Service: Wellbeing Walk-In, throughout the year, for a short informal chat without an appointment.
Please join us in supporting Trans Awareness Week and TDOR by sharing on facebook and Twitter using #transwk or follow @glaad.
Jo, Student Counsellor, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing Team
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.