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UNF LGBT Resource Center promotes awareness to issues in the transgender community

Jonathan Melancon, Reporter

Have you ever had the fear of using a public restroom without discrimination? Have you ever had to prepare a safety plan for yourself in case your loved ones didn’t accept you? Have you ever had to experience medical professionals potentially denying you healthcare for reasons unexplained? UNF LGBT Resource Center Program Assistant Haiden Baier brings awareness to obstacles like these that the transgender community endure in the journey for equality.

Baier became an advocate for the transgender community to educate the world in hopes to diminish the effects of transphobia. Baier sat with Spinnaker to discuss the trials that transgender men and women face based from his own experiences, and the people who he has helped.

Courtesy of Haiden Baier.

“I have that authority to be able to speak and to do this advocacy that my trans brothers and sisters—especially my trans sisters of color—do not have,” Baier states. “In general, I want the world to become more educated about transgender identities.”

According to Baier, one of the biggest issues that the trans community faces is healthcare. Baier says that in some states, like Texas, social workers are allowed to deny services to LGBTQ and disabled citizens. He believes that competency training may be the key for transgender men and women receive equal healthcare without discrimination.

Another big issue in the community is homelessness. According to Baier, there have been cases where people will approach him in the LGBT Resource Center to create a safety plan in case coming out to their loved ones takes a turn for the worst. The plan relies on building a network of support so that anyone “coming out” would not feel alone in their most vulnerable state. Baier states in most cases (especially in young adults) transgender individual may resort to suicide.

“We always have to prepare and ask ‘if this goes wrong and your parents, for whatever reason, don’t accept you, do you have a place to stay?,” Baier states. “A lot of the time, transgender individuals are not safe in shelters.” 

Courtesy of Haiden Baier.

Baier says that the biggest issue may be one of the most fundamental topics, the fear of using a public bathroom. According to Baier, the act of using a public restroom for transgender individuals have been met with an abundance of scrutiny. He knows people that have gone 10 hours without using a restroom out of fear of being villainized. In doing so, people are susceptible to acquiring urinary tract infections and risk not receiving the proper care to treat it.

The transgender community has hurdled with issues that some people may take for granted. The most basic things we could need such as shelter, health, and toilet use can be provided without discrimination. Baier hopes to educate the world on these issues by using his voice to stand up for his community.

“I want the trangender identity to be less trivialized and tokenized,” Baier states. “A lot of the times, I am the only transgender person in the room and I know it’s safe for me because I pass as a straight white man even though I am a bisexual queer man.”

If you’re a part of the transgender and need assistance, the It Gets Better Project has more information. UNF’s LGBT Resource Center is also available for virtual appointments.

___

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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