There are only two days left in the month of May. That’s only two days until Pride month if you live by the queer calendar. June is Pride month or Pride season if you will. To many who identify as LGBTQ+ it is license to celebrate with kick ass parties, festivals, and bar bashes. Some would paint a pretty picture and have us believe that the season swells with love, inclusivity, and a glittery rainbow of commonality between allies and community. Well, I am here to tell you that that depends on whom you ask.
Now I’m not saying the celebration isn’t fun for a lot of people, it is. Hell, I too have enjoyed a Pridefest or three or four or…whatever. But when was the last time you said the word “Pride” to a transgender person and then asked them what it means to them? Never? That’s what I thought.
So, I imagine it’s even safer to conclude that you’ve never had that conversation with a trans woman of color either. It’s probably never crossed your mind, has it? Why should it? The whole LGBTQ+ thingy includes everyone and everyone whose identity is attached to any one of those letters or the expansive community represented by the +, right? And what or whoever stands for one of us stands for all of us. Is that what you think? Trust me, you’re not alone if you do. You are also sightless if that’s where your head is.
In a year where it became nearly impossible to turn on the news or social media without being hit with another accounting of the progress of anti-LGBTQ or anti-trans legislation in states across the country, it became increasingly painful for transgender people. There were over 250 bills in 2021 that just by being introduced and considered in our State governments were blatant acts of discrimination. A recording-breaking 33 states introduced over 100 bills that directly targeted the transgender community. Legislators proposed to deny access to basic human needs such as using the restroom facilities aligned with their gender, chose to prevent trans kids from playing on same-gender sports teams, and sought to criminalize seeking life-saving medical treatment by making it a felony in some states for medical professionals to provide gender-affirming health care to trans youth.
Oh, I know that every member of the LGBTQ+ community has had a target on their back at one time or another, but the disproportionate number of discriminatory acts directed towards trans persons is growing. The acts of hate from those with ill intent continue to garner support while the lack of response – the failure to defend if you will – from others in the queer community intensifies. I won’t deep dive into the world of TERFs and the cis white gay men whose actions widen the rift but understand that their continued lack of trans acceptance is very real.
And transgender people are very real. So how do we flip the script and lift up the very people who by their actions continue the fight for basic human rights for all LGBTQ+ folks while with each step struggle against their own? How do we give trans folks a reason to not only celebrate Pride but to actually feel it?
We dig deep to remind our people that true community Pride is earned and that in allowing hate on any level they are complicit, and we call them out by name. We dig deeper and we educate those who would question trans-ness or our existence. When we can’t find the language, we use social media to spread the message by sharing the expressions of those with visibility who work tirelessly and by their actions advance the movement: i.e., Alexandra Billings, Amanda Jette Knox, Fox Fisher, Janet Mock, Chris Mosier, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Senator Sarah McBride, Chase Strangio, Laverne Cox, Kuchenga, or Jake and Hannah Graf.
We bring the movement closer to home and reach out to our local trans-centric advocates and organizations and demand they step up and speak up. We summon the courage to walk beside them and show by our own example that TRANS LIVES MATTER, and we share with the rest of the world the power of supporting trans humans. And we listen to words from the trans kids that look to us every single day for some assurance that they have a safe place in this world. We hear their proud testimonies, and we see them…for they raise the bravest voices of all.