The week of 13 to 19 November is Transgender Awareness Week 2023 – an annual event that promotes visibility and understanding for trans and gender non-conforming people.
It’s immediately followed by Transgender Remembrance Day. This day of mourning honours victims of transphobic violence and highlights why the trans community and its advocates must continue to fight for trans rights.
What Does it Mean to be Transgender?
A lot of people misunderstand the term transgender (or trans). It’s an umbrella term that refers to those who feel their gender identity doesn’t match the one they were assigned at birth.
Being transgender is different to being gender non-conforming, although both communities are part of Transgender Awareness Week.
Gender non-conforming people identify as the gender they were born with but don’t fit traditional definitions of masculinity or femininity. Trans people may live this way before transitioning to the gender they identify as.
Some identify as neither male nor female. The term non-binary is also used, depending on their self-identification.
The most important thing to remember is to treat trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary individuals with respect.
Always use their current name, not their previous one (an act called deadnaming, which is offensive if done intentionally). And use someone’s preferred pronouns. If you’re unsure what those are, politely asking is okay.
What is Transgender Awareness Week?
Transgender Awareness Week raises visibility and promotes understanding of trans and gender non-conforming individuals.
The event develops awareness of and celebrates trans people ahead of Transgender Remembrance Day, which reflects on the violence and hatred so many members of the trans community have been victims of.
The two events have been running together for almost 25 years. Event organisers and supporters use Transgender Awareness Week to advocate for the trans community and bring positive attention to its members. This celebration reminds others that the transgender population is more than a topic for debate – it’s a living community of people worthy of respect, support and acceptance.
Transgender Remembrance Day
Transgender Remembrance Day is held on the 20th of November every year. The event was founded by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, who organised the first Remembrance Day in 1999 to honour the victims of anti-transgender violence.
Every year since, the 20th of November has been reserved as a day of commemoration for trans individuals. It’s a time to mourn those murdered in transphobic attacks and reflect on why further action is needed to protect transgender people.
Why is Transgender Awareness Week Important?
Discussion and awareness of the trans community have never been greater. Still, sadly, this has not led to advances in acceptance or understanding.
Support for transgender rights has fallen since 2018, which coincides with an increase in anti-trans comments from politicians and other public figures attempting to marginalise or eliminate transgender communities.
As this anti-trans rhetoric has increased, so has violence. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics revealed that hate crimes against trans people rose by 11% in the last year. This rise was in contrast to a slight downturn in racist or homophobic attacks.
The fact that other hate crimes are trending down while transphobia rises suggests trans people are being increasingly singled out for abuse.
How You Can Help
Transgender Awareness Week 2023 comes at a time when trans people are experiencing a growing threat of violence. They are also facing rising hostility from influential political and media figures. Yet despite this tragic context, Transgender Awareness Week should still be a time of support, optimism and acceptance.
Take the time to learn about trans and gender non-conforming individuals as real people, not as an ‘issue’ to be resolved. The LGBTQ charity GLAAD explains transgender terminology if you’re unsure of the correct language to use. They also offer advice on how to be an ally for the trans community.
As the GLAAD transgender guidance states, there’s no single ‘right’ way to support transgender people. Every experience is different. However, good allies are prepared to challenge discriminatory attitudes and accept everyone for who they are.
Trans people commonly face discrimination in their careers. Many feel forced out of work or into lower-paid roles. Employers who fail to tackle trans discrimination are in breach of the Equality Act 2010, which makes gender reassignment a protected characteristic.
Offering staff training is an effective way for employers to promote equality and eliminate prejudice from their organisation.
Our online Equality and Diversity Training course explores different forms of discrimination and the benefits of equality and diversity in the workplace. This understanding helps workers identify and challenge negative attitudes and create inclusive spaces where everyone feels safe, respected and valued.