Education is the only way to root out transphobia

Although San Francisco is often thought of a safe haven for LGBTQ community, the ugly reality of transphobic violence and discrimination tells a different story. Time and time again, we are reminded that being transgender in our society is misunderstood and feared. The U.S. as a whole must shift its reliance on the gender binary and support transfolk in our communities.

On Sunday, a San Francisco transgender woman said she was assaulted for the second time this year for her gender identity. According to SFGate, Samantha Hulsey was punched numerous times in the face and had hot coffee thrown on her by a man and a woman in the Mission District.

“It’s really disturbing that this has happened twice within a year and both times when I was with a partner,” Hulsey said in the article. “I came here to be safe, but we’re really not safe anywhere.”

A community safety survey funded by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission found that 79 percent of transgender respondents in the City had experienced physical violence at some point in their lives as of October 2014.

Nearly all of the 21 trans people who have died violently in the first 10 months of this year have been transgender woman of color, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign and Trans People of Color Coalition.

Transgender people as a whole face more a subtle form of violence in their daily lives: discrimination. The San Francisco Human Rights Commission survey found that 46 percent of transgender respondents said that they “are frequently or always limited” by safety concerns in their housing choice.

In terms of employment, 90 percent of transgender people said they encountered workplace harassment, according to the report by the Human Rights Campaign and the Trans People of Color Coalition.

As San Francisco’s housing crisis spirals out of control, spiking rents for individuals and community action groups alike, more and more transgender people are forced to live and work in places where they feel unsafe. Places where they are more likely to experience violence.

Transphobia stems from a pervasive misunderstanding of what it means to be transgender. We need comprehensive education in all sectors of our society. We need more community action programs that provide safe spaces and violence prevention programs. We need to overcome our culture’s paralyzing fear of those who depart from the heteronormative status quo.