I’m deeply cynical about awareness days and weeks: while well intentioned, I think any Awareness Day also provides an easy way for people to pretend they’re part of the solution without actually doing anything – and in some cases, while being part of the problem. Mental health awareness weeks are a very good example of that, with politicians posting platitudes to social media while simultaneously enacting policies to make mental health provision even worse.
This week is Trans Awareness Week, which started in the US as the lead up to Trans Day of Visibility – a day to mourn the many trans people, mostly trans women of colour and often sex workers, murdered worldwide. As the bigots are quick to point out, trans people are much less likely to be murdered here in the UK – although it does happen, as this month’s trial of teenager Brianna Ghey’s killers demonstrates. But the awareness week is also about raising awareness of healthcare problems, of discrimination, and of anti-trans hate. And those things are global and in countries like the UK, growing.
The problem, I think, is that the sharing of these things is largely a waste of time. Trans people are already very aware of the dangers and issues we face. And people who aren’t trans will often post in support before returning to the very things that make trans people’s lives so difficult.
There will be people posting in support of trans awareness week on X/Twitter, the social network that has done more than any other network to facilitate (and now, promote and pay for) anti-trans hatred. There will be people posting in support of it that will then pick up their copy of The Guardian or The New Statesman, publications that have helped normalise anti-trans bigotry on the left instead of just its usual home on the right (and there’s plenty on the right). There will be people posting in support of it while listening to Spotify or watching YouTube, which both pay enormous sums of money to anti-trans rabble-rousers.
Forget awareness. There’s plenty of awareness already. What we need isn’t empty platitudes or hollow social media posturing. We need people to stop financing, amplifying and excusing hate-spewing platforms, publications and people. Until they do, the flags they wave are worthless.