Transgender Awareness Week started on Monday, when news broke that transphobic stickers had been stuck outside bathrooms based in the Newman building, UCD’s arts hub.

The stickers, which specifically targeted trans women, were torn down by a UCD professor, who then tweeted about the incident. The professor tweeted at UCD, but we are not aware of any action on their part in relation to the incident. 

This incident, although callous enough in isolation, is aggravated by the fact that it took place during Transgender Awareness Week, a week which is supposed to be a week in remembrance of transgender people who have been victims of violence and hate crimes. The timing of this hate crime speaks to a particularly ugly side of our society, one which targets people because of their gender identity. 

We spoke to UCD’s LGBTQ+ society about the incident. E. Savage, the society’s auditor, expressed the society’s dismay: “We’re sad to see the recent rise in transphobia not just in UCD but across the world, with the prominence of trans exclusionary radical feminism in the UK and rollbacks of trans rights in the US over the past few years, and the continued prevalence of violence against trans folks globally.”

The statement reminds us that transphobic stickers outside a bathroom don’t stop there; they are part of a wider problem, which is the widespread violence against transgender people – particularly trans women. According to Gay Community News (GCN), 350 lives were lost due to anti-trans violence in 2020, 98% of whom were trans women or femmes.

Emotional abuse of trans people is also prevalent. Rob Fitzpatrick, the treasurer of UCD L&H, was recently the recipient of anonymous transphobic abuse online. The perpetrators, he told us, went so far as to spread hate to his friends, and even on the L&H’s social media posts. He pointed out that, while transphobia may not always be as visible as these incidences, “the sentiment is felt by trans people everyday regardless of whether it’s visible or not.”

When asked if he thought UCD was doing enough to protect trans students. He answered in the negative: “I think UCD fails not only trans students, but every vulnerable student.” He believes there is always more to be done in relation to the protection of trans students, and that there is “a definite need for discussion between trans people and UCD.”

The issue of intersectionality also arose. As previously mentioned, trans women represented the overwhelming majority of victims of anti-trans violence in 2020. In light of this, Rob advocated for an intersectional approach on UCD’s behalf when they make decisions which affect trans people, to ensure that “everyone in the community is accounted for.” He recognises his own privilege as a white trans man, which reminds us that the issues of race and xenophobia cannot be separated from transphobia. GCN reported that 79% of the anti-trans murders in the US were against people of colour; 50% of those killed in Europe were migrants. 

Rob has urged everyone to speak out if they see transphobia. To him, “it does mean a lot to a community that is often very isolated and silenced.” While Transgender Remembrance Day may have just passed, it is important that we stand in solidarity with the transgender people in our community every day of the year. We have to mourn those who were killed due to transphobia and support our fellow trans students here in UCD. 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, here are some people who can help:

  • LGBT Emergency Hotline: 1890 929 539
  • BelongTo Anonymous Text Support: Text LGBTI+ to 086 1800 280
  • Outhouse: 01 873 4999

Rosie Kuntz – Assistant News Editor