Growing up, lots of us feel like we don’t fit in. Imagine feeling like you don’t fit in to your own body.

Imagine having to tell your parents that you, the child they raised, are not exactly what they thought.

Imagine having your own parents feel ashamed of you.

Imagine being kicked out of your own home just because of who you are.

Imagine having to walk through the street, putting your life in danger just because of who you are.

That is the reality of so many transgender people in today’s world – and yesterday’s too, may I add.

There will be people reading this and feeling unsure of what exactly being transgender is. That’s okay.

Being transgender is when your personal identity and biological sex do not correspond. It’s as if the dots don’t join up.

Last year, it was revealed that there was a 170% rise in transgender hate crimes.

582 incidents were reported to the 15 police forces that The Independent contacted as a part of a freedom of information request.

Yet there were only 19 prosecutions.

Being transgender is not a choice someone has made. For those who have been born into the right body, ‘changing’ our gender when we have no issue with it seems ludicrous.

So transgender people do not choose to be born into the wrong body.

And they’re not just numbers either. They’re real people with real families, real stories, real experiences, real joy and real pain – just like you and me.

Transphobia – prejudice and discrimination against those who are trans – is no joke. It is real and the number of crimes prove it’s happening.

Transphobia, though, is not just the sickening harassment or brutal attacks – and even murders. It’s the cruel jokes, the refusal to accept them and the readiness to refuse them.

It’s the sly comments and the constant chatter about their lives and their decisions.

Transphobia is not funny. And neither are trans people.

They’re real, just like me and you. And it’s time we start to recognise this.

It is not our choice and they are not ours to control. They are free-thinking individuals who have been born into a society with members that cannot cope with anyone other than people similar to themselves.

See you next week.