Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Bolster rights of trans Jamaicans

Published:Saturday | March 10, 2018 | 12:05 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

We are more than just 'b***ymen' or men in wigs. Transgender Jamaicans are hard-working citizens wishing to make a positive contribution to Jamaica's development.

Sadly, because of a lack of understanding of trans identities and prevailing negative attitudes/actions within the society, transgender citizens are not able to positively impact on Jamaica's development.

If Jamaica is to be the ideal place to work, raise families and do business, all its people should be able to be employed, go to school to get the necessary qualifications for that job and raise the family that they want free from prejudice and harassment.

Currently, there are no laws that recognise trans identities in Jamaica. This severely limits their rights to employment, education and family life that all Jamaican citizens deserve. Government policies and laws should become more inclusive and recognise the potential and actual contribution of trans-Jamaicans to the nation's development.

As transgender Jamaicans, we are denied employment because our gender identity is different from the sex we were assigned at birth. For example, I was assigned male at birth but identify as a woman.

Acquiring qualifications is another challenge that individuals in the trans community face, which also affects our employment.

This severely limits our ability to survive because if we cannot work, we cannot eat, provide shelter for ourselves or take care of our health.

The challenges faced in employment and education also affect our ability to raise successful families.

Simply put, if we can't provide for ourselves, we are less likely to provide for others. According to the human-rights campaign and queer grace that are global LGBT rights-based organisations, one in every five trans people is homeless, either because of housing discrimination or family rejection.

Transgender people are far more likely to live in poverty than people who are not trans because of family rejection, housing discrimination, and employment discrimination. Trans people face discrimination in healthcare, as well as discriminatory policies about healthcare coverage and discrimination from healthcare professionals.

A few weeks ago, J-FLAG released a manifesto dubbed the Gay Agenda, which did a wonderful job in centring trans issues highlighting our needs and going beyond health and HIV.

TransWave Jamaica, being the leading trans-led and trans-focused organisation in Jamaica, endorsed the recommendations made within the document calling for an inclusive Jamaica where all citizens feel appreciated.

RENAE GREEN

Field Coordinator

TransWaveJA