Sunday, May 18, 2014

Houston Black Pastors, Sick Of You Denying Our Humanity

Voices and Bibles are raised Tuesday after a the mayor announced a compromise to her proposed nondiscrimination ordinance.One of the things that has really been disheartening to me and other African-American trans Houstonians in this fight to pass the HERO is seeing people that share our ethnic background and our common history engaging in demonizing us, erasing our humanity and our Blackness at the behest of their white fundamentalist controllers.

Leading the charge to demonize and erase the Houston African-American trans community is a cadre of Black ministers led by Rev. Max Miller, president of the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and Vicinity.

His was the voice on the robocall that invaded mine and my mother's lives on the afternoon of May 10 and called me and other trans people sexual predators.  He and his like minded acolytes have been misquoting scripture and ignorantly bearing false witness against me and the Houston trans community, and I and other Black trans Houstonians are beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of it.

Our eloquent Houston sister in the human rights struggle Barbara Jordan once stated, "One thing is clear to me: We, as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves." 

That willingness to accept transpeople has definitely not been evident by their misguided side in this battle to pass the HERO.   

Note I said accept, not tolerate.   It has especially been hurtful and at times depressing to see leaders and institutions from my community I once had much respect for engage in 'fear and smear' attacks designed to demonize me and my trans community.

They are based on falsehoods, lies and the easily debunked bathroom predator meme that was once used to justify Jim Crow segregation.  It's past time you started talking to actual trans people in the African-American community about what our lives are really like instead of Dave Welch, Dave Wilson and the other white conservafool ministers you're trying to curry favor with.  

Rev. Miller, you and your cadre of minsters aren't the only African-American Houstonians being discriminated against, and it's past time you stopped telling that bald faced lie.   Here are the numbers from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey based on Texas respondents:

  • Workplace Discrimination -Rates of discrimination were alarming in Texas, indicating widespread discrimination based on gender identity/expression:
    • 79% reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job
    • 26% lost a job
    • 22% were denied a promotion
    • 45% were not hired
  • Harassment and Discrimination at School-Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (85%), physical assault (46%) and sexual violence (9%)
  • Harassment was so severe that it led 11% to leave a school in K-12 settings or leave higher education
  • Economic Insecurity - Likely due to employment discrimination and discrimination in school, survey respondents experienced poverty and unemployment at higher rates than the general population:
    • 10% of respondents had a household income of $10,000 or less, compared to 4% of the general population, which is more than twice the rate of poverty
    • 10% were unemployed compared to 7% in the nation at the time of the survey
  • Housing Discrimination and Instability - Survey respondents experienced blatant housing discrimination, as well as housing instability, much of which appears to stem from the challenges they face in employment.
    • 8% were evicted
    • 15% were denied a home/apartment
    • 17% had become homeless because of their gender identity/expression
    • 22% had to find temporary space to stay/sleep
    • 50% had to move back in with family or friends
    • 39% reported owning their home compared to 67% of the general U.S. population
  • Harassment and Discrimination in Accommodations and Services-47% were verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation or service,including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.
    • 23% were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official
    • 16% were denied equal treatment or harassed by judges or court officials.
    • 23% of those who have interacted with police reported harassment by officers
    • 41% reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance
Health Care Discrimination and Health Outcomes-16% were refused medical care due to their gender identity/expression
  • 1.9% were HIV positive, compared to the general population rate of 0.6%
  • 19% postponed needed medical care, when they were sick or injured, due to discrimination
  • Only 43% of the respondents had employer-based health insurance, compared to 59% of the general U.S. population at the time of the survey.
  • 41% reported attempting suicide at some point in their life, 26 times the rate of the general population of 1.6%
We have told our stories.  We have patiently testified in front of council the anti-trans discrimination exists in H-town while enduring anti-LGBT animus you whipped up amongst your flocks.

And you are STILL on the wrong side of history.

It's sad to note that you and your cadre of ministers have been our best examples as to why gender identity needs to be part of the HERO. 

Guess you transphobic pastors forgot what civil rights legend Julian Bond said when he stated, “The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.”

And it is disheartening to witness how fast you have stepped up to do Dave Welch and Dave Wilson's dirty work for them and be the figureheads for the continued oppression of the Houston LGBT community.  

You and your misguided friends are hypocritically siding with the same conservative oppressors that oppose the African-American community on human rights issues of importance to us such as voting rights and workplace fairness, and it's a disgusting spectacle to witness.  I'm praying that the transphobic hate speech you've already engaged in doesn't lead to a surge of anti-trans violence here in H-town.

I'm also tired of you and your misguided friends waving the Bible around as a shield for your transphobic bigotry.  The Bible is not the Code of Ordinances for the City of Houston, the Texas Constitution or the US Constitution, and 901 Bagby Street is not a church sanctuary.   Your faith, transphobia and beliefs do not trump my sincerely held beliefs, human rights or the human rights of my fellow transpeople who live in the 628 square miles of Texas territory we are all proud to call home. 

Contrary to the bovine feces the Right Wing Noise Machine has been feeding you, Black trans Houstonians are sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, parents, loyal friends and allies to those worthy of our support.  I nor any African-American trans person gave up our Black card when we transitioned, and how dare you even attempt to erase us from the Black community or deny we are a part of it.

I'm not just doing activism on behalf of the TBLG community.  I'm passionate about many issues that impact me and the Houston African-American community as an unapologetic African-American trans person.  I spoke at a Trayvon Martin rally in front of City Hall last summer.  I've been taking part in the community battle to protest HISD school closures in our neighborhoods.   Dee Dee Watters has given out toys to kids in the Third Ward area at Christmas time for years.  Other Black trans Houstonians are toiling away and involved in our churches and other organizations that improve the lives for all who call this city home.. 

Black trans community issues are Black community issues and it's past time you cisgender African-American peeps get that message.  Read my lips and this post:  We African-American transpeople are not going to put up with for one more nanosecond our humanity being denigrated and disrespected by you based on loud and wrong religious beliefs and your ignorance about transsexuality.   If Vice President Joe Biden and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay are clear that trans rights are a human rights issue, what's your chocolate covered malfunction in not getting that easy to grasp reality?  

I'm a proud African-American trans Houstonian with deep familial ties to this city.  I want a Houston better than its promise. I want to see it grow, prosper and have human rights coverage for all Houstonians.  

All Houstonians also includes my trans, SGL and bi brothers and sisters. 

I want African-American trans people to feel they have a stake in that happening as well.    But we have a hard time feeling that way when we see the constant attacks on our humanity, and even worse note those attacks are coming out of the mouths of people who share our ethnic background.

And you need in the name of Jesus to cease and desist with that. 

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