SACRAMENTO, Calif. — People and organizations across the U.S. are recognizing Transgender Awareness Week.
It's all about helping to raise the visibility about transgender people and addressing issues members of the community face, like prejudice, discrimination and violence.
Transgender Awareness Week is held each year between Nov. 13 and 19. During this time, transgender people and their allies work together to educate the public about transgender people, stories and personal experiences.
According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, there are more than 2 million transgender people in the U.S.
HRC defines transgender as a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
Gender identity is a person's internal and individual experience of gender. It's a person's sense of being a woman, man, both, neither or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
Lauren Pulido (He, They), who lives in Sacramento, identifies as a trans masculine person. A trans masculine person, typically, refers to someone who was assigned female at birth, but identifies with masculinity.
Pulido says he came out as trans masculine in 2019. That same year, he got top surgery and started testosterone treatment. Pulido says he began experiencing discrimination as a transgender person at every turn, especially while traveling and going through TSA checkpoints.
"TSA is a very interesting place, especially as a trans person," Pulido said. "I always get checked going through TSA. I always have to get personally scanned or personally felt-up. It can be a very embarrassing and intimate process that doesn't need to happen."
In March, the TSA announced new standards for screening transgender airline passengers, like implementing enhanced screening technology and reducing the number of pat-down screenings.
The agency says the changes "advance civil rights and improve the customer experience of travelers who previously have been required to undergo additional screening due to alarms in sensitive areas."
As a transgender person, Pulido says he's also faced discrimination at public restrooms. In California, business establishments, non-profits and government agencies that serve the public cannot discriminate based on someone's gender identity or gender expression, including use of a public restroom.
"There have been multiple instances where my safety has been an issue," Pulido said. "If people are either clocking you as not conforming to either of their understandings of gender, it's immediately a safety issue. Systematically, we (transgender people) are not set up for success."
New research by the National LGBTQ Task Force shows Black transgender people experience the highest levels of discrimination compared to other trans groups. That results in higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, poverty and health disparities.
"My story is more of a success story compared to other communities I've worked so hard to fight for," Pulido said. "You rely on the hope that, eventually, things will get better."
In Sacramento, the LGBT Community Center is on a mission to create a region where LGBTQ+ people thrive. That includes, but is not limited to, providing health and wellness programs, community building opportunities, and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.
The Center says Transgender Awareness Week is a time to not only support transgender people and communities but to also remember victims of anti-trans hate and violence.
"Transgender people have historically been a marginalized group," said Alexis Sanchez (She, They), director of advocacy and training at the LGBT Community Center. "Every human being should have a chance to thrive and have a great life. Anything we can do to support those who are targeted as victims of violence is a really powerful act."
Transgender Awareness Week is recognized each year, right before Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). TDOR honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender hate and violence.
According to the HRC, at least 32 transgender people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means so far this year. However, the organization says many stories go unreported - or misreported. Black and Latinx transgender women make up the majority of anti-trans violence victims.
In 2021, the HRC tracked a record number of violent fatal incidents against transgender and gender non-conforming people — with 50 fatalities tracked.
GLAAD, an LGBTQ media advocacy organization, is also recognizing Transgender Awareness Week this year by organizing a number of events, conversations and campaigns nationwide.
GLAAD is also encouraging all transgender people to take the 2022 U.S. Trans Survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality. It's the largest survey on the transgender community to help accurately accumulate and assess data about the diversity of trans people across the country and help inform public policy and allocation of resources.
"Right now is a particularly difficult time for the transgender community," Alex Schmider (He, Him), director of transgender representation at GLAAD. "We're seeing hundreds of bills introduced in legislatures across the country, attempting to ban life-saving healthcare from trans children and excluding them from sports participation, essentially trying to erase and eradicate trans people from public life."
To learn more about Transgender Awareness Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, or how to be a better ally in transgender communities, visit the official GLAAD website for helpful eductional resources.