Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was 'well-timed' according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.
For years now I have heard the words "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never".
Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
'Letter From Birmingham City Jail', April 16, 1963.
Ever since I begun fighting in 1998 in conjunction with other transgender people around the country to expand the work of Dr. King, I have heard a late 20th-early 21st century variation of that paragraph uttered from the lips of numerous gay and lesbian people when it comes to transgender civil rights.
Wait your turn.
Wait my turn? Wait my turn for what?
Did you gay and lesbian people 'wait you turn' when you pushed for inclusion in civil rights legislation in the 70's?
Did you gay and lesbian people 'wait your turn' when you demanded that funding for HIV/AIDS research and finding a cure for it get higher priority in the 80's?
Did you 'wait your turn' when you demanded that your rights be acknowledged and respected in the 90's?
Did you gay and lesbian people 'wait your turn' in 2003 when you disastrously pushed for marriage equality one year before a critical presidential election?
How dare you part your lips to even say that to us. We transgender people are the ones who had the cojones to stand up to police harassment in San Francisco in 1966 and during the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969 while you gay and lesbian peeps were cowering in your closets. It is transgender blood that is being shed and transgender peeps who are discriminated against, denigrated, and disrespected by our foes and even by you, our so-called allies.
You have repeatedly cut us out of civil rights legislation on every level of government with the soothing words of 'we'll come back for you'. That has been proven over the years to be an odious lie as we wait for you in many jurisdictions across the United States to fulfill your broken promises.
Yesterday, led by your point gay Rep. Barney Frank, you once again cut us out of a bill that frankly, we need more than you do. You uttered the lie that 'we'll come back for you' and help you pass the 'GENDA bill' while pulling HR 2015 that was inclusive and replacing it with a gay and lesbian only one in addition to GENDA.
We transpeople know that you will bury that GENDA bill in a subcommittee, never call hearings on it and let it die a painful death while you selfishly fast-track your gay and lesbian only ENDA bill to the House floor for passage.
The sad part is that President Bush isn't going to sign it, so why start a civil war in the GLB community over this issue?
If there's anything that the misguided pastors of the Hi Impact Leadership Coalition have been proven right on is that your GLB civil rights movement is not like ours. Your GLB movement is selfish, morally bankrupt, exclusive and has been so since 1971, while the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King was a morally strong and inclusive one. You have more in common with the Dixiecrats than with civil rights warriors such as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
You say the country is not ready for transgender inclusion in civil rights law. Just today Oprah Winfrey did a show on transgender people and is doing another one on October 12. Transgender people are getting more positive coverage every day. Surveys prove over and over again that the public is more enlightened on the transgender issue than the Barney Franks of the GLB movement who are still drinking the hate-on-transpeople Kool-aid of Janice Raymond and Jim Fouratt.
As a transperson who also happens to be a proud African-American, the 'wait your turn' to me and transpeople who share my ethnic heritage sounds eerily similar to what Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney wrote in the Dred Scott Decision majority opinion 150 years ago: That I have no rights that you are bound to respect.
Wait your turn.
Rep. Frank and all you gay and lesbian conservaqueers who share his myopic self-centered views, how long must I and other transgender people wait for their constitutional rights in your infinite wisdom? It's sickening that transpeople in other countries around the world such as Spain and Great Britain are gaining and have more rights than those of us who live in the so-called cradle of democracy.
Will little six year old Jazz, the transkid profiled in Barbara Walters 20/20 story on transgender people have to wait until she's 21 to get constitutional protection?
How about Rochelle Evans in Fort Worth? Will she have to wait until she's 45 to get a law that protects her civil rights?
How long will transgender prom queen Crystal Vera have to wait? How long will Jake, the 16 year old transman profiled on today's Oprah show have to wait?
Rep. Frank and Speaker Pelosi, do you have the balls to tell the parents of these transkids that they must 'wait their turn' for their constitutional rights?
How long will transpeople who've been fighting this pitched battle with you for a decade over ENDA and simple inclusion in the GLB community since the 1970's have to wait? Can you walk into a TAVA meeting and tell our transgender veterans who honorably served our country, fought to protect, extend and defend people's civil rights and freedoms abroad that they have to 'wait their turn' to have the same freedoms extended to them at home?
Can you look all the parents and family members of deceased transpeople such as Rita Hester, Tyra Hunter, Gwen Araujo, Brandon Teena, Deborah Forte, and hundreds of others in the eye and tell them that transpeople have to 'wait their turn 'to have their civil rights codified into law?
So if you couldn't 'wait your turn', then why would you dare ask us, the shock troops of the GLBT movement to do something that you yourselves are unwilling to acquiesce to?