Transgender people face multiple issues with regard to our full equality and inclusion. In addition, the worst of the worst anti-LGBTQ violence is reserved for transgender individuals, especially transgender women. On a regular basis, we are potentially subject to discrimination, hate, and/or violence. Our health, safety, and well-being are constantly at risk. We must also make extra efforts to find informed, culturally competent healthcare providers. Furthermore, we deal with a complicated process to apply for and receive proper documents pertaining to our identity. Repeated efforts by legislatures to pass laws targeting transgender people (such as the so-called “bathroom bills” that marginalize us even more) also add to our burden.
The definition of the term “transgender” is evolving, encompassing most people who live outside the traditional male/female gender binary, for whatever reason. Typically, though, someone diagnosed with gender dysphoria is someone for whom the programmed gender identity that developed in our fetal brain does not correspond with the physical sex into which our body developed.
Because the struggles of a transgender individual cannot be seen or measured scientifically, society has considered us mentally ill. Many of us consider physically and socially transitioning (living as the gender with which we identify) to be the most effective way to manage gender dysphoria. Gender itself is an extremely complicated and emotional construct. The social repercussions of transitioning are many and burdensome.
To remove the stigma of being a mental disorder, the DSM-5, published in May 2013, replaced the term “disorder” with “dysphoria.” Now the condition is recognized as a medical issue for which a person can seek appropriate medical treatment and support, including counseling, cross-sex hormones, gender reassignment surgery, and social and legal transition to the desired gender.
Historically, most employer insurance plans have not covered the cost of comprehensive medical and surgical treatment for gender dysphoria. Such treatment is still considered cosmetic, despite groups such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) recommending coverage for these treatments. This barrier to insurance coverage may be removed in the near future, but not without more committed advocacy work and action. Likewise, employment discrimination of transgender people is epidemic.
EQAZ’s Advocacy Work
Equality Arizona actively works to advocate for, protect, and expand the rights of transgender people at both state and municipal levels. We have actively participated in fighting against state legislation that would have negatively affected our community, including the “bathroom bill” and SB 1062, which was vetoed. We have also helped pass anti-discrimination laws in Tucson, Phoenix, and Tempe. Because of our work, transgender individuals can no longer be refused service in these cities.