Transgender Awareness Week 2022

A Personal Reflection

closeup of the palm of the hand of a young caucasian person with a transgender flag painted in it, in front of his or her face

During the week of November 13-19, the transgender community and their allies will observe Transgender Awareness Week, in which organizations, individuals, and government agencies are called on to raise awareness regarding the disparities faced by transgender individuals. The week culminates on November 20 in the observation of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day reserved to remember those who lost their lives in acts of transphobic violence.

Twenty years ago, my friends and I attended a TDOR service at a local church. A leader in the community stood in the pulpit and read the names and causes of death from 2002 of transgender individuals across the country. We left the service in shock. As social media did not yet exist and phones were not as smart as they are today, we had no idea these things were happening at such high frequency. The truth unfolded and would open our eyes; people were being violently tortured and murdered more often than could be tracked.

Ten years ago, I participated in a TDOR service in Charleston for the first time. I would like to say the list of names was shorter, or the causes of death less violent, but such was not the case.

This year, the topic of gender identity has become politicized and thrown into the public conversation. News anchors without the benefit of adequate competency training are giving stories over streaming services. Twitter, TikTok, and Meta commentaries spread hate and misinformation faster than the platforms can stop it or users can educate their peers.

This year, for Transgender Awareness Week, I would hope that those who are familiar with transgender issues and concerns can help someone they know understand what is needed by this community to feel affirmed and accepted. Further, it would be my hope that anyone who seeks to know more or does not understand why the topic of gender identity is so important would seek out information.

As in previous years, GLAAD is once again inviting those who want to celebrate TAW from home to watch “Disclosure” on Netflix. This documentary follows characters, actors, and crew members through television and cinema history as transgender individuals. Viewed through the lens of entertainment history, it is easy to understand why negative narratives have been perpetuated.

The transgender community is full of vibrant, diverse people who want to feel safe, want their children and partners to thrive, and want to enjoy the same opportunities as cisgender people. Join us this year in lifting up, celebrating, and remembering those whom we have lost.

Sarah N. Harbin, LPC