The transgender population is nearly double what it was five years ago. A 2016 study by the Williams Institute At UCLA estimates there are 1.4-million transgender adults living in the United States.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence programs estimates those people are nearly four times more likely to be victims of physical violence.
Evee Guist says, “The earliest I can remember feeling this way is when I was about five years old.” For Evee, the last year has been a learning experience.
She says, “You feel eyes all over you. People may be judging or you know, it’s hard to tell whether people are like oh she looks nice or what’s up with them.”
According to Equality NWA, there is currently no estimate of how many transgender people live in Northwest Arkansas because many are scared.
Evee says, “After seeing that you’ve been going to a therapist for a while, the doctor will prescribe you hormones.” After choosing to transition to a woman, Evee saw the changes aren’t just to her physique. She says she’s seen changes in people around her. “Most days where I just didn’t want to go to work because I was afraid of like a certain customer showing up that would call me names,” says Evee.
The hardest part for Evee was telling her family she was transgender, especially her dad. She says, “Because I was his only son, but now he’s starting to try to understand a little bit more. I know he’s still not okay with it, but I’m letting him take his time with it and I let him still call me son.”
Equality NWA says getting people to understand trans people are just regular people is the biggest problem they face. She says, “I don’t cause any trouble. I go home, play video games, I watch Youtube, and I’m not causing any harm to anybody, so I would like people to just understand I’m another person and I prefer to just go by Evee and female pronouns.”
Currently a Fayetteville city ordinance protects transgender people facing discrimination within the city and an anti-bullying law protects trans students in schools. Even so, many in the transgender community feel they remain largely unprotected.
Evee says, “I have fear of being discriminated and beaten up. I haven’t experienced a lot of physical problems, but definitely verbal.” She adds asking questions is the best way to better understand. She says, “For me, personally, I’m pretty open and I’ll respect you back if you respect me by asking, just politely asking how should I address you?”
She hopes more people will begin to understand transgender people and sharing her story is a step forward.
Evee says, “It is a difficult journey at times, but I don’t regret it.”
To learn more about the transgender community in Northwest Arkansas and the proper terms for communication – click here.
Click here to learn more about national efforts thorugh the National Center for Transgender Equality.