Friday, February 10, 2006

February 2006 TransGriot Column

And the Winner Is…..Moi!
Copyright 2006. THE LETTER

Since February is Black History Month I usually like to devote my column to someone in the African-American GLBT community who has made history. I originally wanted to talk about Miss Major. She’s an African-American transperson that I met at TSTBC 2005 who was at the Stonewall Inn the night of the rebellion and has a fascinating story to tell.
I’ll tell her story in a future column. But in the meantime I have breaking news about someone else who’s just made history. Your humble columnist.

On December 30, 2005 I was notified that I’ve become the third African-American transwoman to win an IFGE (International Foundation for Gender Education) Trinity Award. I was sick in bed that day, but hearing that news definitely made me feel a whole lot better despite the fact I had a sore throat that made me sound like Harvey Fierstein when I picked up the phone.

IFGE has given out this award since 1987 to transgender people and their allies. Some of the biggest names in the transgender community have received it. Phyllis Frye, my activist mentor in Houston. Monica Helms and Angela Brightfeather of TAVA, Jamison Green and Vanessa Edwards Foster just to name a few. There's another one for lifetime service to the transgender community called the Virginia Prince that IFGE also gives out. To earn that one you have to put in 15 years of service to qualify for it.

To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to get the Trinity Award this soon because there are other African-American transpeeps that I felt have been overlooked. I’m amazed that the late Alexander John Goodrum hasn’t won a Trinity. Come to think of it, NO African-American transman has won it yet. Lorrainne Sade Baskerville of Chicago is a person that I thought would get one. Chanel Tresvant in Los Angeles has done wonderful work in the Los Angeles area. Earline Budd in Washington DC has run a program to help Washington DC transwomen for several years.

There are the connections between Dawn Wilson, Marisa Richmond and me.
Besides the fact that we’re the African-American Trinity winners, I helped present Dawn before she accepted her 2000 Trinity in Washington DC. 2002 Trinity winner Marisa succeeded me as NTAC Lobby Committee Chair. We’ve all bumped into each other either at Southern Comforts, IFGE conferences or other transgender community events. We’ve criticized each other at various times, turned to each other for advice and bounced up and down I-65 to visit each other.

While winning the Trinity is a huge honor, I never got into activism just to receive awards. If that’s your sole focus then you’re doomed to failure. Awards are based on a track record of measured success and other intangible factors. In my opinion the ultimate measure of success for an activist is how many lives you’ve positively impacted through your actions.

Finally, winning the Trinity is a testament to just living your life openly and being unabashedly proud of who you are. All I wanted to do in 1993 was transition and become the best person that I could be. In the process I became a leader, mentor and role model not only to my generation, but more importantly the next generation of transpeople as well.

That means as much to me as the Trinity I’ll be picking up on April 7 in Philadelphia.

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