Before I get started, I want to put up a trigger warning for this blog as a whole– every post will likely deal in suicide, abuse, and possibly rape statistics and stories of transgender teens and adults, as part of an ongoing fight to do something about them.
The goal of this blog is to help assess how members of the educational community can instate programs and practices to decrease the rate at which transgender teenagers suffer abuse and commit suicide. As part of this mission, there will be reviews of news, statistics, and personal accounts.
This blog was created as part of a project for the University of Maryland’s ENGL393 Technical Writing course.
So, what is a middle class, white, cis-male doing writing about transgender kids? Don’t people only get involved with these things when they are personally effected? Do I even have the right to write about this? Will I be able to moderate my own privilege when I do talk about this?
These are the big questions that I got asked and that I asked myself when I started this project. I am not transgender; I am a fairly privileged cis-male (cisgender, or cis for short, refers to someone whose sex assigned at birth matches their personal gender identity), who has never had to personally live through the often harrowing experiences that some trans people have been forced to survive. As such, it is important to establish who I am from the get-go. There are too many stories of people appropriating the experiences of oppressed groups to try to get ahead, and I don’t want to be one of them. So who am I?
I am an aspiring teacher, who has friends and students (often one and the same) who identify as transgender. From them I have heard too many stories of suicide and abuse of trans teens and adults. According to The Youth Suicide Prevention Program, over half of young transgender people attempt suicide by the time they turn 20; some of them multiple times. I may not be transgender, but there are people in my life that I care about who are, and as an educator I can’t accept the idea that I should do nothing to try and help.
This isn’t about coming to the rescue. This is about having some damn human decency. This blog is part of an ongoing project within my graduate studies that will hopefully, by its end, provide an action plan to educational administrators to help the transgender youth in their communities.
As for having the right to write about this, I don’t know. I hope I do. I will attempt to be respectful and keep my privilege both upfront and checked. I will post corrections as they come up, and not attempt to hide my errors but rather highlight them, so that the truth is made more apparent. And you, the reader, will play a part in that. Call me out– I know it is not the job of any member of a community to educate others about that community, but please help me to be the best ally I can be, by calling me out when I get things wrong or say something out of line.
[the title of this post has been edited to fit the naming conventions assigned by the project]