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Is your Transgender Day of Remembrance a "one-night stand" or a larger commitment?


  

Even within LGBTQ community, the realities of trans people's lives are often ignored. How do you and your communities integrate trans people (and in particular trans women of color) into your efforts all year long?”

If ever featured at LGBTQ events, trans women, often become our featured entertainment at drag night but rarely our trusted public leaders -- and never the stories from which we glean our next steps toward equality. Even in death they become martyrs for a community that can barely decide on how to acknowledge their appropriate name.

Much of this damage is not caused by malice, but by larger systemic issues in which non-trans (cisgender) people may know very few (if any) trans people in their everyday lives. We are also shaped by race and class in ways that may limit our relationships. The criminalization of survival work that some of us may engage in just to live every day disproportionately fixates on trans bodies of color and creates yet another barrier to the authentic community we long for.

Here's a simple example: How many times have you heard someone in support of LGBTQIA people merely talk about our “gay and lesbian sisters and brothers” or the “gay and lesbian community” or “homophobia” without a mention of transphobia? How many people are left out in harmless (seemingly supportive) statements like that?

While sexual/affectional orientation is something people are getting used to talking about, much of the language we use in support of LGBTQIA community leaves out the complexity of gender identity. This lack of information, language and acknowledgement is only the surface of the system that causes both physical and emotional harm to trans* individuals.

Remember that some of us are living in fear for our lives every day -- while many of us in the LGBTQ community don't think twice about our physical presence in the world and what it may inspire in others. Make sure your efforts at inclusion are not merely symbolic gestures.

 

J Mase III is a Black/Trans/Queer/Rowdy-as-Hell Poet with a capital [P], currently based in New York City.

  

On the Move

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