Our Message I have been encouraged over the past few months because I am seeing information, interviews, advocacy and press about trans* issues in all of the media. I recently heard a radio piece on National Public Radio, a TED Talk by model and advocate Geena Rocero, Laverne Cox’s amazing interview on The Katie Couric Show, and an article in the newspaper talking about the challenges facing trans* people. From my local newspaper to television, major news outlets and all areas of local, state and federal government, trans* people are being seen and heard. As an advocate for Mature Transgender people, I believe the more exposure, and the more that is known about our community and our challenges, the better for us all.
“You transgender people are everywhere.” This was an interesting statement made to me recently. The person went on to say he thought trans* people were something fairly new because he never heard of anyone being transgender until a few years ago and now we’re everywhere. I assured him that trans* people are nothing new; we are just more visible than ever before. His statements added to my encouragement. Someone who would be more than willing to ignore most people who didn’t look, sound and think like him were seeing us. We cannot be ignored.
The Tragic News Becoming more visible and getting our message out is a double-edged sword. Almost everywhere we are being seen and heard. We are also getting the message out that we, as a community, have horrible challenges. The most recent statistics I heard yesterday are almost two thirds of all trans* people have suffered physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Our suicide rate is nine times the national average and in most states in the country, we have no protection in housing and employment, just because we are trans*.
Transgender Day of Remembrance I heard recently on National Public Radio a story which mentioned our Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). Again, this is an under reported, yet extremely important fact of life for trans* people. Each year a significant number of our brothers and sisters are being killed just for being trans*. I’ve heard from so many cisgender people that they know nothing of these tragedies or our TDOR. I tell them last year we mourned the loss of over two hundred members of our community.
The Victories We must celebrate and revel in our victories. Whenever a trans* youth attends their prom as their true self, that’s a victory. When a transwoman is appointed to a high position in the Federal Government, that’s a victory. The day Forbes Magazine announced Jennifer Pritzker as the first transgender billionaire, that is a victory. And lastly, when the young man at the supermarket bags your groceries and says, “Thank you, ma’am.” That’s a victory!
Much Work Left To Do We have much work to do and a long way to go. This is the reason I rejoice when trans* people and trans* issues are brought to the attention of the public. This is why it is important we remember our victories. That way we can see we really are making advances. We also must never forget those who have suffered and who we’ve lost. So whether we are on the nightly news with the big three networks, on the cover of Forbes Magazine, we are getting the Our Message out. Maybe you’re posting a comment on a Huffington Post article, writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or buying produce at the farmers’ market; you, too, are getting Our Message out . We are getting Our Message out where it belongs that we are here, we’re real, we’re not going away, we’re your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers or the transman at the barbershop getting a trim in the chair beside you.
Our Message Get used to it, we’re here to stay.