Today is Transgender Day of Visibility – an international day to recognise trans people for who they are.
With recent media on trans people, we are getting to see more trans stories in the news, on TV, and in films.
The increased awareness of our existence is good, and now we need to move from existence to humanity – what are trans people’s lives like?
For many trans people in NZ, this question starts at home – trans people, especially if they are Maori (takataapui, taahine, whakawahine, tangata ira tane), are extremely likely to face housing discrimination and live in unsuitable, unstable, and temporary housing, which creates all kinds of stresses, health problems, and risks.
With the housing crisis currently facing low income earners in many parts of the country, Maori transgender people are some of the worst affected by this – especially if they are raising children.
Kim* talks about being homeless for the past few months, saying ‘it’s not the first time. Every year I have to go out and find a new home for my kids. Landlords look at me; Maori, transgender, with kids, and there’s no way they want me living in their house.’
‘It’s because of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination,’ says Ahi Wi-Hongi, 32, National Coordinator of Gender Minorities Aotearoa. ‘We need to have a good look at the enormous struggles which trans people are going through every day of their lives, and we need to take action to provide basic resources to these people – to these human beings. Maori trans people are routinely homeless – not just once, but many times throughout their lives’.
It’s amazing that there is so much scope for visibility now, Wi-Hongi says, ‘but we’re not just here for titillation and entertainment. It’s important that visibility is about respecting us, recognising our struggle for equity, and increasing our access to basic human rights and resources’.