Once again the forces of ignorance in the TG community show themselves. When my friend Monica wrote about the lack of African American transgender persons at the recent event in the White House she was kinder than I would have been.
It is well noted in many surveys that the minority transgendered population suffers the most in today’s society.
Case in point, the 2000 Washington DC Transgender Needs Assessment Survey (WTNAS) which pointed out the gross disparities faced by many young minority men and women
It was compiled from 263 questionnaires collected from September 11, 1999 to January 31, 2000. Duplication was prevented by the use of an acrostic as a unique identifier for each participant. Subtraction of duplicated and incomplete/inconsistent questionnaires produced a final total of 252.
Participants range in age from 13 to 61, with nearly 80% 36 years and under. Seventy-five percent or respondents report being born anatomically male, 24% female and 1% intersexed. Over 94% are of color, with nearly 70% African-American and 22% Latino/a. Eighty-four percent are U.S. citizens, and 20% have immigrated to the U.S., mostly from Latin American countries. The majority of the participants self-report their sexual orientation as Gay (65%), their gender identity as Transgender (69%) and their relationship status as single (69%).
The WTNAS survey found and I quote:
Forty percent have not finished high school, and only 58% are employed in paid positions. Twenty-nine percent report no source of income, and another 31% report annual incomes under $10,000. Fifteen percent report losing a job due to discrimination from being transgendered. Forty-three percent of the participants have been a victim of violence or crime, with 75% attributing a motive of either transphobia or homophobia to it.
Almost half of the participants (47%) do not have health insurance, and 39% do not have a doctor whom they see for routine health care.
Ratings of accessed regular health care services with regard to their quality and sensitivity to the participants as transgendered individuals range from Good to Excellent, but the numbers reporting indicate a low level of overall access.
The most common barriers to accessing regular medical care reported are lack of insurance (64%), inability to pay (46%), provider insensitivity or hostility to transgendered people (32%), and fear of transgender status being revealed (32%).
With disparities like these, the question is clear. Where were the trans minorities of color?
As author Alice Walker pointed out, “No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.”
It was pure arrogance on the behalf of imitation French vanilla transgendered activists to think they have the power to dictate to the transgender community at large who is acceptable in their eyes to meet with the President of the United States.
If they were truly our allies, they needed to talk to the leaders in the African American transgendered diaspora that we chose to represent us.
Unfortunately, some people fell for that ‘okey-doke’ illusion of inclusion strategy and instead of giving a multicultural panel a chance to represent us, went out and formed another white-dominated panel and anointed its leader as THE spokesperson for the community. Because of this, the tranquilizing drug of complacency was injected into the transgender community and put us in the position once again of being sold out.
As reprehensible as those actions were, there was a silver lining in all of this. People are beginning to question this community’s commitment to diversity.
One of the lessons I was taught by my Sunday School teacher Sister Willie Mae Lewis was a mantra drilled into us that I remember to this day that resembles a math equation.
Accountability + Responsibility = Credibility
She also reminded her students that before one can lead, one must be willing to follow and hold themselves accountable for their actions.
It seems that some transgender community leaders and other people inside the Beltway have forgotten that lesson, much less been taught it.
It is time for them to learn the folly of their ways and school is in session.