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Transgender Day of Remembrance and Substance Abuse in the LBGTQ Community

  • Transgender Day of Remembrance and Substance Abuse in the LBGTQ Community

    Transgender Day of Remembrance and Substance Abuse in the LBGTQ Community

    November 20th is the 16th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, designated so in 1998 to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester- an African-American trans woman slain in Boston. Since then this day has remained a solemn day in the LGBTQ community as violence against transgender people continues each day despite the (slow) progress regarding acceptance across the U.S.

    Advocate reports that in the past year 81 people have been murdered internationally as a result of hate and intolerance; tragically, this number only reflects reported crimes.

    Transgender Day of Remembrance and Substance Abuse in the LBGTQ Community image

    “Skylar Kergil” by Ames4140. Licensed under CC by 4.0.

    While Transgender Day of Remembrance commemorates those who lost their lives to violence, we cannot forget those who lost their lives to suicide and drug abuse. Rather caused by bullying or inner turmoil caused by struggling to accept one’s self, today should be a solemn reminder of the consequences of ignorance perpetuated by society.

    People who fall into the heteronormative portion of society often do not understand the profound angst and perplexion caused by realizing one is not a part of that majority. Fear of rejection, religious ramifications, social backlash, and, yes, even murder keeps millions of people from living in their truth.

    The emotional and moral unrest is enough to drive some to end their own lives or turn to drastic means to alleviate the pain: self-harm, substance abuse, and risque behavior.

    While the exact statistics on substance abuse in the LGBTQ community are unclear, Social Work Today reports that is 20 to 30 percent higher than the general population.

    Family trouble, self-hate, and untreated mental disorders are among the leading causes. Alcohol and drugs become a means of escaping the pain; for some illicit substance abuse is “a part of the culture” which only compounds the issue.

    Where acceptance for non-heterosexual people is coming slowly and with incredible effort, gains in terms of transgender rights and legal protections are proving even harder to come by.

    Special interest groups and advocates fight desperately to rectify the injustice of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but until we as a people agree to end the hate, Transgender Day of Remembrance is a tragic but necessary reminder of the repercussions.


    Image: “Parents of a Transgender Child Show Their Support” by Tim Evanson. Licensed under CC by 2.0.

    Do you think instating equal rights will reduce substance abuse in the LGBTQ community? Let us know in the comments, and remember to always be respectful!

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