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Trauma and Transgender Individuals

Waking up in 2021 is much different than waking up in 2011. And in some ways, that is amazing, inspiring, and incredible. But in other ways, it is a stark reminder of how much more society needs to do in order to love and care for its people. When it comes to trauma faced in transgender communities, every day can feel like a toss-up.

Over the past decade, society has evolved significantly. Rather than being a culture that accepts treating women as less-than to men and excuses negligent behavior based on socioeconomic status, we are looking straight down the line between what is right and what is wrong. We are challenging ourselves to think outside the box, expand our ability to spread kindness, and pay attention to caring for ourselves in ways that help lift those around us. Of course, there are still millions of people who push back against progressive, inclusive ideologies and who spread fear, anger, and hatred among us. But, as we continue to move along on our journey as a united country, we are experiencing a shift in social justice like never before.

So, what does this mean for communities such as the transgender community? Well, for starters, it means that more is being done than ever before to recognize, respect, and accommodate their lifestyles. But, on the other hand, we continue to see hurdles that seem insurmountable to overcome and maltreatment not even appropriate for the greatest of criminals. Members of the transgender community are certainly no strangers to adversity, discrimination, and social injustice. And, for many of them, their transgender lifestyle has been a lightning rod for the development of one or more traumatic experiences in their lives.

So, how are trauma and transgender individuals connected?

Trauma and Being Transgender

Individuals who identify as transgender are those who have a gender identity that differs from the one they were assigned to at birth. Some people find it difficult to understand how and why a person who was born a man desires to be a woman. They might even think that the person questioning their gender is really homosexual instead. But homosexuality and gender identity are two completely different things. For those who are transgender, the challenges and traumas they begin to face at a young age can shape them for the rest of their lives.

What types of trauma are commonly experienced by those in the transgender community?


Discrimination occurs throughout several different types of populations, such as in African-Amercian communities and hispanic communities. It is something that occurs constantly in the transgender community, too. In fact, some of the greatest discriminatory acts against transgender individuals have occurred within the past four years under the Trump administration. For example, in early summer of 2020, then President Trump went against the Supreme court ruling that allowed for a save haven for transgender individuals under gender discrimination protections. The year prior to that, the Trump administration banned transgender individuals from being vocal about their gender in the military (in a new age “don’t ask, don’t tell” campaign). 

Not only do transgender communities face discrimination at the highest levels in the land, but they also experience it when doing basic, everyday things like grocery shopping or going out to eat. Several news stories have reflected incidents where transgender people were refused service or asked to leave because of their gender identity. 

Physical violence 

For decades, we have bear witness to horrific physical violence against individuals who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. In 1998, the violence that this community had been experiencing flooded right into our living rooms when Matthew Shepard, the then 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten and left for dead by individuals who protested his homosexuality. Since that turning point in American culture, we have continued to get an up-close-and-personal look at the physical violence those in the transgender community face. It is not uncommon for a transgender individuals to get physically assaulted at a bar, night club, or restaurant, nor is it uncommon for them to be hunted down by narrow-minded individuals and beat or possibly murdered. The vast majority of transgender individuals can relate to either being involved in a physical assault or feeling the anger and hatred from one or more people because of who they identify as. 

Transgender individuals also experience higher rates of sexual assault and prejudice as a result of their gender identity. Unfortunately, these experiences trigger the onset of symptoms related to trauma, which can add another layer of complexity to an already difficult situation. 

Effects of Trauma on Transgender Individuals 

The instances described above serve as some of the most common traumatic events that occur within this community. Subsequently, transgender individuals have higher instances of depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders in response. The trauma they experience serve as the triggers for these and other diseases and mental illness. And, for those that struggle with a mental illness like depression, they can be forced to learn how to cope with symptoms like lack of motivation, constant fear or concern, feelings of hopelessness, and even suicidal tendencies. Both mental illness and trauma are risk factors for the development of substance use disorders, especially when they are connected in such a strong manner. 

Transgender Sober Living in Los Angeles

Today’s world is riddled with challenges even for the most privileged individuals. If you are transgender and are struggling to cope with the adversities that you are experiencing or have previously experienced, reach out to us right now. While there are certainly a lot of negative things occurring around us all, know that at Riviera Recovery, positivity reigns supreme and the kindness and compassion of our team members is undeniable. 

So, no matter what you are dealing with — depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or a combination of things — know that there are people who want to help and who can help. Call Riviera Recovery right now to learn more about the services we can provide so that you can begin living a happier, healthier life.

You deserve the best shot at a great life as possible. Call us today.