It has been quite a year for transgender visibility.
Last June, Laverne Cox graced the cover of Time as the first openly transgender person in the magazine's storied history. This year, everyone is discussing Caitlyn Jenner's cover of Vanity Fair.
Jenner's coming out story has brought significant attention to the transgender community. However, visibility has yet to equal better treatment for most transgender people, especially vulnerable sections of the population such as people of color, those in the armed forces, and those who are of a lower socioeconomic status than Jenner and Cox.
One of the biggest struggles has been continued violence against transgender people, especially those of color. In the United States, at least 11 transgender women have been murdered in 2015. Worldwide, the numbers are far more staggering, with some sources estimating a transgender person is murdered every three days.
In 2014, there were reports of 220 transgender people killed, and those are likely underreported and incomplete due to lack of uniform recording standards. The murders also do not account for the high suicide rate among the transgender population, especially in societies that seem bent on erasing the very existence of transgender people.
While overall numbers of transgender people affected by violence are small, the relative numbers are significant when one considers that only 0.33 percent of the U.S. population is transgender, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles. There are no census questions that would identify the population.
While some talking heads debate whether Jenner "deserves" to be called courageous, those men and women among us who are undoubtedly courageous — our active duty military forces — are some of the most vulnerable to discrimination.
The stories of transgender service members being dismissed from some branches of the military has not appeared to slow, although last week the Air Force amended its policy to let transgender individuals serve.
Although transgender civilians in the federal workforce have legal protection, those in uniform may be subject to discrimination or even discharge.
Kristen Beck, a former member of SEAL Team 6 (the unit that took out Osama bin Laden) and a transgender woman, has dedicated much of her time and effort to shedding light on and, with others and allies, changing the military policies.
One of the most insidious forms of discrimination is economic.
Housing and job discrimination are rampant across our nation, especially in places that have no fairness ordinances. Unemployment for transgender people is 2.5 times the national average, perhaps because there are no federal laws protecting transgender people from being fired for simply being themselves.
The more one looks at the many corporate claims of "deeply held religious beliefs," the more one sees discrimination masked as religion. Kentucky still lacks a statewide fairness law, despite a more than 15-year effort by advocacy groups.
And still the airwaves are filled with hateful, ill -informed and discriminatory speech from politicians like presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, to the Duggar family from the reality show 19 Kids and Counting who made now -infamous (and painfully ironic) robocalls for a ban on transgender women using public facilities because we might be pedophiles or perverts.
Closer to home, state Sen. C.B. Embry offered the so-called "bathroom bounty" bill, which would have paid students to report on transgender children's choice of bathrooms. At least six states had bills introduced which would have essentially legalized discrimination against transgender people.
I am happy for Jenner. She is now living as her true self. No matter how much money or fame one has, it is difficult to find authenticity and take the risk of coming out when you may lose the things you care about, including friends and family.
However, I also hope her story and visibility will shine light on the transgender community and issues as a whole, and that Jenner will use her newfound platform for more than just making money for the E! network.