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Artefact: Mikhaela Reed. (2008). Transgender Rights. Tumblr. Retrieved from boilingpointcartoon.com.au
A Few Reasons Why
By Jessica Bellenger

Student Number: n8894451
Tutor: Dr Mangalam Sankypellay
The Artefact and Public Health Issue
Discrimination, social exclusion and harassment are experienced on a daily basis by those identifying as a transgender person in society. As defined by the National Centre for Transgender Equality, transgender is ‘an umbrella term for people whose gender identity, expression or behaviour is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth, including but not limited to transsexuals, cross- dressers, androgynous people, gender queers, and gender non-conforming people,’ (2009). As displayed in this cartoon segment, transgender individuals face discrimination in multiple facets of their lives including job-seeking, housing and social outings. The cartoon above is an image that was created in 2008 and shared via the internet ever since, as an attempt to raise awareness of transgender rights, and the need for a universal transgender rights bill. The black and white segments represent the attitude that society currently displays towards individuals in this gender bracket, and the coloured section highlights the question that needs to be addressed in order to achieve equity.

Literature Review

The issue of discriminating against transgender people is of high prevalence and has been evident in society since historical times dating back to 1899, where the death penalty was awarded to those who identified as transgender. The socially constructed view of the transgender cohort is quite degrading and unaccepting. There is evidence that proves this view needs to change to provide transgender people with the freedom to live their daily lives judgment free. They, just like any other gender recognition group, have equal rights among the general public and do not deserve to be treated any different in comparison to the remainder of the population.
People who are transgender feel like they're living inside a body that's all wrong for them. They often say they feel "trapped in someone else's body,” (Teens Health, 2013). It is difficult to find Australian statistics that confirm the number of transgender people in the country, but a study completed in 2004 outlines that it could vary from 1:200 people to 1:1000 people (Arnold, Rosenstreitch, UnitingCare West, National LGBTO Health Alliance, 2004, p.2). One of the main barriers that is uncovered when attempting to estimate the percentage of transgender people in the Australian population is that many people feel too embarrassed or scared to identify themselves as part of this gender group. This hesitation and anxiety regarding their gender recognition therefore becomes an internal burden and has negative implication on an individual’s mental health. Research demonstrates that poor health outcomes are related to social determinants, particularly discrimination, violence, social exclusion and isolation (VicHealth, 2005, p.3). Some 80% of LGBTI people experience public insults, 20% explicit threats and 13% physical assault daily and 69% have reported being denied job opportunities multiple times (Smith, 2013, p.8-10).
Sadly, the most ‘at risk’ places are at home, in the workplace and at school for the younger proportion of the population. Current statistics show that there is a high prevalence of mental disorders including anxiety and depression. Over 43% within this gender bracket suffer from anxiety, and 50-60% suffer from depression and related disorders. Self-harm rates are 50% higher than the Australian heterosexual population, with most transgender individuals admitting to beginning self-harm at the age of 16 as they were coming to terms with their gender identity, with 45% admitting they used alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms (Arnold, Rosenstreitch, UnitingCare West, National LGBTI Health Alliance, 2004, p.5).
One of the major factors that plays a role in the differentiated treatment of transgender individuals in society is homophobia, in conjunction with some of the Australian population not being able to understand the choice to undergo a gender identity change. In her article, The Death Of The ‘Transgender Umbrella,’ Mercedes Allen states, “There are folks who believe that if transsexuals could divorce themselves from a "transgender" umbrella term and make the public at large see a black and white difference between them and other trans people, then finally we would be able to obtain human rights, respect, dignity, access to medical care and legal name changes, and more,” (2011). Being a transgender woman herself, Allen is able to describe and understand the discrimination experienced from those who embrace a gender binary, and therefore provide an insight for others to try and generate their own acceptance of the LGBTI population.
Cultural and Social Analysis
A further study released by the National Centre for Transgender Equality attempted to define transgender from a cultural point of view. The study reads, “When you look across cultures, you will find that people have had a wide range of beliefs about gender. Some cultures look at people and see six genders, while others see two. Some cultures have created specific ways for people to live in roles that are different from that assigned to them at birth. In addition, different cultures also vary in their definitions of masculine and feminine. Whether we view someone as transgender depends on the cultural lenses we are looking through as well as how people identify themselves,” (2009, p.2, para 3).
As proven, transgender persons experience social and cultural marginalisation as the heterosexual cohort of the Australian population find it alienating to grasp the concept of transgender relationships. As acknowledged by the Victorian Government, “part of the reason gay and lesbian people experience marginalisation is that federal, state and territory laws do not offer gay and lesbian people uniform protection against all forms of discrimination,” (Better Health Channel, 2012). This treatment is not only restricted to social discrimination, as gay, lesbian and transsexual people have reported being treated disrespectfully and not receiving equitable medical assistance from health practitioners around the country.
In 2005 the Australian Human Rights Commission released an inquiry entitled, Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Enquiry. The inquiry recognised this marginal gap in medical treatment and released a statement outlining, “During the Inquiry, the Commission heard that some GLBTI people suffer from negative attitudes by staff in health care services. This treatment has ranged from overt homophobia to a simple failure to understand the existence of same-sex relationships. In either case, some people in the GLBTI community feel like there is discrimination in accessing health services, “(2005). Since this problem has been discovered from within medical, some states including Tasmania and Victoria have implemented medical rights legislations for gay, lesbian and transgender people, and are urging remaining states to do otherwise. The Gender Equity Chapter in Gender and health inequities (Bates, Hankivsky & Springer, 2009) reemphasises this gap by stating that the treatment of gender is inconsistent with growing recognition of the limitations of treating individual categories of identity or oppression (e.g social class, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation) in isolation (p.1, para 3).
Alliances such as National LGBTI and Trans Health Australia are making efforts to reinforce the need to change the societal view of transgender people, and gender groups such as gays, lesbians, gender queers and bisexuals, in order to promote a healthier more accepting 21st century nation. Trans Health Australia in correlation with LGBTI organisations are “aiming to raise visibility, educate and raise awareness of the issues affecting members of our community, and to provide peer support to individual members or other groups who support our community,” (Trans Health, 2012).
A seminar held by the National LGBTI Health Alliance in 2010 has recognised these health problems and have since been acting to decrease the existence of these issues within the transgender community. They have outlined their main focus areas which include taking action against policy and legislation inequality, aiming to partner with LGBTI organisations to improve mental health outcomes, promote diversity and inclusive practices in workplaces, promoting workforce acceptance and cultural diversity training, providing community education and awareness and increasing funding for LGBTI projects and events (National LGBTI Health Alliance, 2010).
Human rights and freedoms particularly relevant to LGBTI people include the right to equality before the law, equal access to work and equal treatment in workplaces, the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, social security, freedom of expression, privacy and family life (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2008). These rights should be equalised among all of society, no matter the individual or gender group identity one belongs to. A fact sheet released by the Human Rights Commission proclaims the effectiveness that a federal human rights act could have in providing equity for diverse gender groups in our societies.
Analysis of Artefact and Own Learning Reflections
The presented artefact is a perfect example of all of the aroused issues that have been discussed in this reports. It not only pin points the complex mental and physical struggles that transgender people endure on a day to day basis and presents examples of encountered discrimination when looking for an occupation, seeking housing, and from a social public setting. Further, in the fourth frame, a man is questioning a transgender woman what they need a transgender rights bill, which forces the viewer to ponder this themselves. The examples presented clearly define the deserved place for a universal human rights bill to decrease the prevalence of transgender harassment and discrimination in Australia, and around the globe.
In future I will stand up more and speak out for the rights of these people, even though I do not identify as transgender I feel now after completing this task I feel more affiliated with the transgender community as I have had an insight to their lives. Bullying, harassment and discrimination is a social norm for these gender groups, and I personally believe this is not acceptable and I now support the movement of LGBTI groups stronger than I did before.
This artefact has caused myself to have a deeper understanding of gender groups, and to sympathise with individuals identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and of course transgender, as they are awarded an unequal place in our communities. They suffer embarrassment and humiliation inflicted by others, simply for trying to live their lives the way they want to; they are not doing anything wrong. Since when should being yourself, no matter straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, or in between, ever be a punishable crime? It never should be, and society, individuals and cultures around the globe need to start being more open to gender groups and realise that they are people. They are people just like you and me. I hope this research encourages more people to be open and accepting of transgender societal rights, and stand up for the movement of a human rights bill that is gender group equitable. Transgender rights are, and need to be the future.



Reference List
Allen, Mercedes. (2011). The Death of the ‘Transgender Umbrella’. The Bilerico Project. Retrieved from: http://www.bilerico.com/2011/06/the_death_of_transgender.php

Arnold, Mary., Rosenstreitch, Gaby., UnitingCare West., National LGBTI Health Alliance. (2004). The mental health of sexuality, sex and gender diverse Australians. 2-6. Retrieved from: nrha.org.au/11nrhc/papers/11th%20NRHC%20Arnold_Mandy_D4.pdf

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2005). Same Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry. Australian Government. Retrieved from: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/stories-discrimination

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2008). Human Rights and Gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and intersex people. Australian Government Department of Human Rights. Retrieved from: www.humanrights.gov.au/letstalkaboutrights

Bates, Lisa Michelle., Hankivsky, Olena., Springer, Kristen W. (2009). Gender and health inequalities: A comment of the final report on WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. 1. Elseiver. doi: doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.07.021

Better Health Channel. (2012). Gay and Lesbian Issues- Discrimination. State Government Victoria. Retrieved from: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Gay_and_lesbian_issues_discrimination

National Centre for Transgender Equality. (2009). Transgender Terminology. (202), 1. Retrieved from: transequality.org/Resources/NCTE_TransTerminology.pdf

National Centre for Transgender Equality. (2009). Understanding Transgender. 2. Retrieved from: transequality.org/Resources/NCTE_UnderstandingTrans.pdf

National LGBTI Health Alliance. (2010). Linking LGBTI Health and Human Rights. Retrieved from: http://www.lgbthealth.org.au/health-and-human-rights

Smith, Ian. (2013). The Australian Corporate Closet, why it’s still so full: Investigating the relationship between sexual orientation (disclosure and concealment) and Heterosexism and how this affects GLBT employee well-being. University of Wollongong. 8-10. Retrieved from: ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1051&context=sbshdr

Teens Health. (2013). Transgender People. Nemours. Retrieved from: http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/guys/transgender.html

Trans Health Australia. (2012). National Advocacy and Peer Support Network. Retrieved from: http://www.transhealth.com.au/

VicHealth. (2005). Social inclusion as a determinant of health and wellbeing. Mental Health and Well-being unit. 3-4. Retrieved from: www.copmi.net.au/images/pdf/Research/social-inclusion-fact-sheet.pdf‎