Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Trans People Can't Wait, Either

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) in Birmingham Jail
On this 50th anniversary date that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the 21 page essay that became the defense of and the seminal call for the African-American civil rights movement, trans African-Americans have much to ponder in terms of where we are human rights wise in the second decade of the 21st century.

Cheryl Courtney-Evans and I have both written posts on different dates in the spirit of that 'Letter From A Birmingham Jail', but the message is still the same.  Trans people cannot wait for freedom, human rights, and just laws to be enacted to protect them.   It is time to act.

And unfortunately, just as Dr. King called out the white moderate as a bigger impediment to the freedom of African-Americans than segregationists and the snarling Klansman, we trans African-Americans have had to contend with white gays and lesbians as our impediments to trans human rights liberation. 

Sometimes gays and lesbians have been more active and gleeful agents of oppression to trans people than the Religious Right and the trans exterminationalist radical feminists combined

Just as Dr. King did not hesitate to call out friends, foes and frenemies in his day, neither should we transpeople shirk from calling out the people who impede our progress toward trans human rights coverage either.

We hear far too often the arrogant, paternalist phrase when it comes to trans human rights coverage uttered by 'all marriage all the time' pushing gay folks for trans people to 'wait our turn', or claim that trans people are not part of 'their movement'.   

A movement that was built on gayjacking the stories of our suffering.   A movement that started with a riot on a sultry 1969 New York early summer night that Sylvia Rivera and POC TBLG people jumped off because they were tired of the police messing with them.  A movement in whose civil rights shade trees are watered with the blood of trans people.

It's also one in which the words 'we'll come back for you' is a GL community dog whistle code for 'we got our rights, screw you t------s'. 

So no, trans people can't wait either.   We can't wait when it's Black and Latina trans women under thirty who are disproportionately taking the brunt of the anti-trans murders.

We can't wait when we're suffering with a 26% unemployment rate in the African-American trans and our Latin@ trans brothers and sisters are dealing with a 20% one. 

We can't wait when trans exterminationalist radical feminists are gleefully stirring their cauldron of hatred and calling for our extermination as the feminist community claiming to support all women sits in mute silence.

We can't  wait when right wing legislators steeped in ignorance are passing unjust laws aimed at our community's ability to pee in peace and others fight just trans human rights laws by repeatedly citing a debunked 'bathroom predator' lie.

We can't wait when our trans kids are being bullied, harassed and denied their human rights because they dared to step up and live their lives as out and proud trans people.

President John F. Kennedy said in a  televised June 11,1963 civil rights speech that "When you give rights to others, you expand them for yourself."  

It's past time to give trans people the rights they deserve so that you cis people can expand human rights coverage for yourselves.  Civil rights is not a zero sum game as conservafoools would like you to believe, it is a mutually beneficial action that not only benefits to community you're granting rights to, but society as a whole.     

As Vice President Joe Biden stated last year, trans human rights is the civil rights movement of our times.  You can understand why he said that when nations such as Argentina and Canada are passing laws to protect their trans citizens from discrimination along with 15 states and over 180 jurisdictions across this wonderful nation of ours.  We're starting to see court cases break our way not only in the US but courts around the world.   We're getting increased visibility and positive media coverage as we close ranks in the trans community to become a stronger, more cohesive part of the greater society.  .

The arc of the moral universe is bending toward justice for transgender people.  You can choose to be on the side of justice, freedom and human dignity for trans people or go down the dark path of injustice and be forever reviled in the history books as part of the group of oppressors who tried and ultimately failed in their reprehensible task to deny human rights coverage for other Americans. 

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