Where Will The Trans Movement Be In 10 Years?

A reader writes,

It seems like the trans movement is at a watershed moment right now. Where would you like to see the movement go in the next 10 years? What should our goals be, and what pitfalls should we try to avoid?

Thank you for these interesting and important questions! I appreciate the chance to explore the topic. This is an amazing moment for the trans community. We are reaching new levels of mainstream acceptance and visibility, and we are connected, organized, and engaged like never before. I’ll first discuss some benchmarks I’d love to see us reach in the next decade. Then, I’ll examine our priorities–including a few things I hope won’t become priorities.

It’s difficult to answer this question concisely, because trans equality is intimately connected to justice for all people. Trans people are of every race, religion, gender, nationality, ability, class, sexual orientation, etc. We will never be really free while there are violence and oppression in the world. However, I will focus this post on a few issues specific to the trans communities I know and inhabit.

Before I dive in, a caveat. This is just my take as one trans dude/blogger/small-time activist. My thoughts reflect my position as a middle class, light-skinned, Jewish transsexual man in the US. I would love to hear different ideas and different perspectives on this. I’d like to invite others to offer their own answers to the questions above.

The Trans Movement in 2025

How will things change for the trans movement over the next 10 years? I don’t know, but here are four things I’d love to see.

1. Safety

In 10 years, I would like it to be safe to walk down the street as a transgender person. Being visibly trans or gender-nonconforming should not put a person at risk of discrimination, harassment or violence. As a transsexual man who hasn’t been misgendered in years, I am quite safe. Many trans people do not have this basic freedom, and it’s no coincidence that trans women, people of color and poor folks are all at greater risk.

I am nauseated to admit I do not think we will get there in 10 years. But safety is, of course, an essential goal. I recognize there are many places and situations where people aren’t safe, period, regardless of gender identity, expression or history. Still, I feel I have to put this at the top of the list. This is what I would most like to see: that we can move through our own communities without fear.

How we’ll know we’re there. The TDOR list will stop getting longer.

2. Healthcare &  Transition

Many people are not able to access medically necessary, life-saving care because they happen to be transgender. In 10 years, I would like to see the disappearance of healthcare discrimination and much expanded access to transition.

It is unspeakably horrible that people are denied emergency attention or cancer treatment just because they are trans. In terms of transition, if we in the US still have our horrible health care system, I would at a minimum like to see transition care covered by insurance.

I would like to see policy changes that give trans people reasonable avenues to update their legal sex (some encouraging recent developments on this; when I changed my sex on my Social Security record just 4 years ago, I had to prove I’d had surgery, and that’s not the case now). I would love to see some kind of option for genderqueer people (and others who are neither male nor female) to reflect their gender on their records, if that is something nonbinary people want.

How we’ll know we’re there. People won’t die waiting for care that will never come just because they are transgender. People won’t have to get hormones on the street or forgo needed surgery because it’s too expensive. We won’t be walking around with mismatched identity documents (unless we want to be!).

3. Awareness & Acceptance

Transphobia and cissexism aren’t disappearing anytime soon. But I’d love to see us make huge gains in public opinion, and I think that’s possible.

In 10 years, I’d like “transgender” to be a concept that more or less all adults understand. I’d like the mainstream to have a basic sense of compassion and respect for trans people. There will undoubtedly be hold-outs who despise us. I hope they will, indeed, be hold-outs, left behind while the public learns to live alongside us. There are signs this is beginning to happen, but we have a really long way to go. This visibility ought to include nonbinary people as well as transsexual women and men, of course.

How we’ll know we’re there. There will be trans characters in popular books, movies and shows (this is starting to happen). Most people will have met at least one openly trans person (like the situation of gays & lesbians in the US now). There will be openly trans people in various occupations and roles. In many jurisdictions, it will be both illegal and unpopular to discriminate against us.

4. Mental Health

Being trans shouldn’t be a near-guarantee of depression and suicidal ideation. I would like to see greatly improved mental health within our community. If we’re safe, if we’re largely accepted, if we can access transition–that will go a long, long way towards alleviating our collective misery. I would also like to see mental health professionals improve and update their understanding of trans issues, so we can easily find professionals who know how to work with us (and, hopefully, actually afford mental health services–see number 2!).

How we’ll know we’re there. Suicide & suicide attempt rates for trans people will be close to the rates of the general population. Family members will by and large support transgender loved ones.

 

What about goals and potential pitfalls? I really see just one issue here. Our priority should always be improving conditions for our whole community. We should let the most dire issues and the needs of the most vulnerable among us set the agenda. I hope that in 10 years, the trans movement will continue to be a vibrant, diverse coalition. I hope we will continue to address urgent causes, to question systems of oppression, to offer intersectional interpretations of power. I hope we will not take on an assimilationist focus that mainly serves trans people who are already privileged by race, class, etc. That is the pitfall that worries me–that instead of conditions improving for trans people in general, there will be widening inequality within the trans community.

What do you think? Where would you like to see the trans community in 2025?

Ask me a question.

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12 comments

  1. topherbigelow

    I think the only thing I would add, which is related to many of your exceptional points, is education. I think within the next ten years, we’ll see a broader attempt at educating people of all ages in regard to gender identity and expression. I’d really like to see this happen in early childhood, like kindergarten. Great post!

    • rimonim

      Excellent addition. It seems like a lot of activists and parents are focusing on schools right now, with issues of bathroom access, sports participation, etc.

  2. Jamie Ray

    It is a interesting question. I’d like to see universal health care, because transition (in the US) is dependent upon being able to afford surgery and hormones, or to have access to insurance that covers it. Until we have universal health care with no gatekeeping barriers (i.e. informed consent), access will still be a matter of economic or regional privilege. No one should have to pay out of pocket for surgery/hormones and no surgeon should refuse to take or submit for insurance.

    It is hard for the movement to focus on access to healthcare because it is “indirect” but it is a major issue. There was/is a similar issue in the AIDS activist movement over how much energy to put into fighting for a single-payer (universal) coverage versus drugs into bodies.

    Access is particularly problematic for trans women because on average their financial cost of transitioning is higher than for trans men. So in 2025 I’d like to see us have universal care or be fighting for it.

    • rimonim

      Hell yes, great point–thanks for bringing this up. Important point about our trans sisters also because on average they take a major pay cut after transition. Alma knew a woman who worked for the same company, who held the same job at a different branch after her transition–and was paid considerably less.

  3. L

    Personally, I’d also like to see much more innovation and research on the surgery front as well. I’d love for bottom surgery to be as psychologically and physiologically viable for trans men as trans women, and is personally be thrilled to see more advancement on the genital nullification front. I want the surgical and medical menu that is currently available to be way more thorough. Can tht happen in 10 years? Probably not. But I hope that there will be interest and funding for that research by then.

    • rimonim

      Another great point. I didn’t think about this at all. Really important. I also hope we’ll have better information about trans health overall (hormone therapy, sex-linked conditions, etc). There’s a real lack of specific info for us on many questions.

  4. krisalex333

    South Africa has one if the most liberal constitutions in the world, but I fear we will be going the way of some countries in Africa, like Uganda. Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, when asked by homosexuality on CNN, said, “They’re disgusting. What sort of people are they? I never knew what they were doing. I’ve been told recently that what they do is terrible. Disgusting.” And we all know about their anti-gay laws. Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, also spews this kind of hatred. Changes in Africa? I think not.

    • rimonim

      Thank you so much for sharing about LGBT rights in your country and continent. The situation in Uganda and other countries worldwide is horrifying. I hope that South Africa will take a different direction.

  5. George Davis

    I think that an issue that is deeply related to safety is trans teenagers who end up living on the streets, either because their parents kick them out or because the situation at home is abusive. Living on the streets can also lead to sex work and more problems with physical and emotional health.

    Safety, health care, acceptance, and mental health are incredibly interconnected.

    I am very big on research and would like to see more research on many issues, everything from the effects of hormone therapy on the brain to does providing access to health care for transgender people prevent kids going into sex work, etc.

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