WASHINGTON — Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins spoke on a Washington Post podcast Friday about the challenges transgender people face and what transgender politicians like her can do about them.
Jenkins being interviewed with Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr post Reporter Akilah Johnson said she was fortunate to be from a “hospitable state” like Minnesota.
Earlier this month, Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order protecting the rights of LGBTQ people from Minnesota and other states to gender-affirming health care. And the Minnesota state house on Friday passed a bill that would bar out-of-state individuals from being arrested for providing or receiving gender-affirming care in Minnesota, even if they are from a state that has banned that care.
Nonetheless, Jenkins said, homelessness among transgender youth remains a major problem, largely due to discrimination in the labor market.
“You find yourself on the streets late at night,” she said, prone to violence. “We need to break down these barriers to housing and employment.”
The podcast aired on the same day as a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of more than 500 transgender respondents was released. The survey also asked more than 800 cisgender Americans about restrictions related to transgender people. It found that despite difficulties, a large majority – 77% of adult transgender respondents – said they were happier than they were before the transition.
The survey found that 64% of transgender adults surveyed said they had been verbally assaulted because of their gender identity, gender expression or sexual identity, and 25% said they had been physically assaulted.
The survey also found that a 62 percent majority of trans adults identify as “trans, gender non-conforming” or “trans, non-binary,” while 33 percent identify as “trans male” or “trans female.” . Almost half ask people to refer to them using the pronouns sie/her, although most say they use the pronouns sie/her or he/him.
Although the majority of transgender people surveyed, 77%, reported changing their clothing and hairstyle, only 31% reported using hormone treatments, hormone replacement therapy, or puberty-blocking hormones, and 16% had gender-affirming surgery or other surgical treatment change their physical appearance.
The Washington Post said it conducted the poll because of “intense polarization” regarding transgender rights, with more than 200 bills introduced in state legislatures this year aimed at limiting access to gender-affirming care, which Children can learn about transgender identity in schools or whether trans girls can play sports. Yet only about 1% of the US population identifies as transgender or non-binary.
Montana, which has already banned residents from changing their gender on birth certificates after the transition, is among states whose lawmakers are considering anti-trans legislation.
Zephr is trying to counteract this with its own bill that would prevent the “transgender panic defense,” which those perpetrating violence against transgender people are allowed to use “because they were shocked to find out” who their victims were. But Zephr said he doesn’t let the defense of “crime of passion” by those who attack transgender people face an uphill battle in a “red” state like Montana.
Still, when Zephr knocked on the door of her neighborhood, she said, “Kindness was shown to me at every door.”
Jenkins said it’s important for trans people to be in politics so “they’re in the space where laws are being considered.”
Jenkins also offered some advice on how to treat transgender people with dignity.
“Don’t ask people their real names, it’s offensive,” she said. “And don’t ask her about her medical transition.”
She also said that “to be a positive ally” for transgender people, you must be willing to “turn off transgender jokes” when the situation arises.