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During the pandemic, an estimated 25% of transgender adults in the U.S. reported not having enough to eat in the past week, compared to 8% of cisgender adults, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Transgender people of color and those living at or below the federal poverty level were particularly affected by food insufficiency.

Using data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey collected between June and October 2021, researchers examined experiences of food insufficiency among transgender and cisgender adults. Food insufficiency is defined as sometimes or often not having enough to eat in the last seven days.

Results show that transgender people were almost twice as likely as cisgender people to encounter barriers to accessing food beyond affordability, including an inability to get out to buy food (24% vs 12%, respectively) and safety concerns (22% vs. 12%, respectively).

“Transgender people face high rates of poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate economic impact on LGBT people,” said lead author Kerith J. Conron, Research Director at the Williams Institute. “The commonality of food insufficiency among transgender people shows how critical it is to ensure access to jobs that pay livable wages and to improve access to food resources for this highly marginalized population.”

Trans Rights Protest In London, Soho Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

KEY FINDINGS

  • Around a third of transgender adults (31%) were living at or below the federal poverty level (FPL).
  • Transgender people were three times as likely as cisgender people to experience food insufficiency (25% vs. 8%).
  • Transgender people of color (36%) were more likely to experience food insufficiency than cisgender people of color (13%), transgender white people (17%), and cisgender white people (6%).
  • 42% of transgender adults who earned less than 130% of the FPL—the amount set by the federal government to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—experienced food insufficiency in the past week, compared to 23% of cisgender adults in the same income bracket.
    • 29% of transgender adults and 13% of cisgender adults living between 131% and 200% of the FPL, and therefore not income-eligible for SNAP, faced food insufficiency.
  • Overall, transgender adults were more likely to rely on food resources, including food banks (14%) and SNAP (20%), compared to their cisgender counterparts (6% and 12%, respectively); however, levels of utilization were below levels of need.
  • Of those who met the income requirement for SNAP eligibility, around one-third (31%) of transgender adults and 39% of cisgender adults were enrolled in the program.
Read the full report here.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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