Thursday, January 13, 2011
Unless Trans Civil Rights Are Protected, It WON'T Get Better
While the messages from these folks have been wonderful, appreciated and needed, the campaign still hasn't addressed the root causes of the issues that drive young TBLG kids to take their lives.
Transpeople face disrespect inside and outside the BTLG community. While the Internet has been a wonderful way for us to organize and disseminate information around the world about our community, at the same time it is a double edged sword. We also get the see the negativity that society aims at us on a regular basis as well.
We had the lesson tragically reinforced in Tucson a few days ago that hate speech and hate words matter. Don't think that the societal negativity aimed at transpeople from various sources isn't taking a similar toll on us.
And sadly, it's manifesting itself in the suicides of our kids. We in Houston are mourning the loss of a young person named Ashley who took her life during the Christmas holidays.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr once stated back in an August 1988 EBONY magazine interview that 'Where there is hope there is life, where there is life there is possibility and where there is possibility change can occur.
If our transkids continue to see transpeople struggle inside and outside the TBLG rainbow, they lose hope. They take their lives, we lose the possibility in those lives, and another opportunity for positive change doesn't happen.
For life to get better for trans people, it starts with not only respecting our humanity but codifying and protecting our civil rights. An inclusive ENDA must be passed so that trans people can work and contribute their talents to building society. Anti-discrimination law must be passed so that trans people aren't denied medical care or housing simply because you don't like us. Anti-bullying laws must include gender identity provisions so that we feel safe enough in the school environment to get that education and succeed.
We must to borrow the words of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. again, keep hope alive for our transkids. Trans seniors need to act as mentors to our trans younglings. We need to step up our game as trans people and run for office, be leaders in the trans and cis communities, and role model the behavior we expect and demand from the parent society.
We need cis allies, liberal-progressive ministers, politicians and others to continue to forcefully remind people that trans people are precious children of God as well. Until that happens in society on a consistent basis, trans people are treated as respected members of it, and trans kids see their adult peers surviving and thriving, then how can they feel that 'it gets better' for them when they see their adult peers catching hell?
And unless we as a society do a better job of keeping hope alive for our transkids and get them to see that life realistically can get better for transpeople, they are going to continue to feel that ending their lives at the first sign of difficulty is the only option they have.
And it won't get better for any of us.