Monday November 20 is Transgender Day Of Remembrance, an annual day to honour the memories of those whose lives were taken by anti-transgender violence.
While statistics are hard to come by in Australia, transgender African-American and women of colour suffer the highest fatalities from violence than all other groups in the United States. Tragically, 2017 has been the deadliest year on record for transgender people, with the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT agenda blamed for fuelling an increase in hate-based harassment and violence.
The First Australian National Trans Mental Health Study, published in 2013, found that the health of transgender people in Australia is in a crisis, with an alarmingly large number of trans people experiencing high levels of mental distress, in particular depression and anxiety, and poor quality of life. The report also found that many transgender people are being lost to suicide.
Transgender activists like 25 year old Charlie Craggs from the UK are helping to increase trans visibility and highlight the struggles trans people face in their everyday lives. Charlie uses conversation to challenge prejudice and stereotypes with her award-winning education and empowerment campaign, Nail Transphobia.
Charlie takes her pop up nail salon to UK festivals, galleries and museums, where people who’ve never met a transgender person before can get their nails done by her. Not only do they leave with a fabulous manicure, they take with them the answers to any questions they have about being transgender and an understanding of how to be a better ally to members of the transgender community.
According to Charlie, the most important part of these interactions “is just having a laugh and a chat because what I'm really trying to do with my campaign, as well as educate, is humanise the issue and show that trans people are just normal (actually pretty nice) people; I want people to go away with more than just a manicure, I want them to go away an ally. I'm trying to change hearts and minds a nail at a time."
Charlie’s latest project is the book ‘To My Trans Sisters’, a compilation of essays from almost 100 inspiring and celebrated transgender women, designed to offer support to the younger members of the transgender community. From politicians, activists, business people, scientists, models, athletes, authors and actors, these are women who have successfully transitioned and who have helped to break down barriers and increase acceptance of transgender people.
In the book, they share their wisdom and advice, their struggles and the lessons they’ve learned through their journeys to womanhood. The book also includes the women's biographies, detailing their career and life accomplishments.
“I want to pass on their legacy: these are the women that paved the way...We wouldn’t be living in our enlightened trans glory if it wasn’t for these women.” Charlie told Refinery29.
“We’re told we're not good enough from the minute we transition, but this book, and the women inside, are testament to the fact that we are good enough.”
In the introduction, Charlie writes that resilience is the theme that runs through all of these women’s stories. “Almost every letter in the book contains stories of prejudice, rejection, hate - but despite all the hardship girls like us face, we still choose to exist, bravely, boldly and beautifully.”
“It is an achievement to simply survive in this world as a trans woman, but as the women in this book show, not only do we survive, we thrive.”
To My Trans Sisters is available from Booktopia and costs $30.90 for paperback or $2.75 for the Ebook.