Transgender Rights

December 11, 2015 • Volume 25, Issue 44
Can a long-scorned minority achieve equality?
By Alan Greenblatt


Political novice Kristin Beck (AFP/Getty Images/Nicholas Kamm)
Political novice Kristin Beck, who served in Afghanistan as a Navy SEAL before coming out as a transgender woman, is challenging Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, in next April's primary. Despite an increasing number of political and legal victories, transgender people have yet to gain much traction as political candidates. (AFP/Getty Images/Nicholas Kamm)

Throughout history, people with gender-identity issues were either ignored or abused. In fact, until recently, transgender individuals — those who don't identify emotionally and psychologically with the sex they were born with — were regarded as mentally ill and were widely spurned, even by gays and lesbians. The picture is beginning to change, however, with the Obama administration championing transgender rights, the Pentagon signaling it will allow transgender soldiers and sailors to serve openly beginning next year and pop culture favorably portraying transgender celebrities. Nevertheless, transgender people continue to struggle with poor health care coverage, high rates of unemployment, violence — including murder — and suicide. Congress and most states have refused to mandate anti-discrimination protections for transgender individuals, in part because of a backlash over the issue of which public restrooms transgender people should use. While transgender individuals are experiencing growing public and political support, they have a long way to go before they can achieve full acceptance.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Issues
Dec. 11, 2015  Transgender Rights
Civil Rights: Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Issues
Crime and Law Enforcement
Domestic Issues