New York Times series focuses on challenges for transgender people

As a wave of visibility washes over the transgender community, media outlets are focusing increasingly on both the issues facing, and triumphs of, trans people. The New York Times has launched a series, entitled "Transgender Today", which will look "at the challenges ahead" for trans folks and the broader community. The editorial board at the paper writes: "being transgender today is still unreasonably hard, but it is far from hopeless," a message meant to inspire, while taking into account the social, medical, and legal challenges still ahead.

Until recently, most portrayals of transgender people were one-dimensional and relied heavily on marginalizing stereotypes. Positive depictions of trans people have been few and far between, with a spate of trans-inclusive media in recent years. A GLAAD timeline illustrates the increase of favorable representations.

The Times also has an interactive project devoted to transgender people sharing their personal stories. GLAAD board members Jennifer Finney Boylan and Lana Moore have both made videos, as has Tiq Milan, a GLAAD spokesperson. In her video, Boylan recalls the conversation in which she came out to her mother. Apprehensive to share her story publicly, Boylan's mother quieted these fears by saying: "it's impossible to hate anyone whose story you know." Hopefully, the Times series can humanize transgender people and familiarize cisgender (non-trans) people with the community, ultimately destigmatizing being transgender.

While the increased attention is welcomed, it is important to understand the challenges many trans people face. As Tiq wrote in the Times, "…we still face serious socioeconomic challenges and discrimination. Transgender women of color particularly bear the brunt of intersecting systemic discrimination and violence. Trans folks experience unemployment at twice the rate of non-trans people and transgender people of color’s unemployment rate is four times the national average." True to the mission of the series, the Times will focus on the discrimination and inequality those in the trans community face, giving context to and inspiring change and acceptance from non-trans people.