New York Times best-selling author and GLAAD's national co-chair, Jennifer Finney Boylan, shared with CBS News the issues and actions – those regarding transgender equality – that are most important to her in today's civil rights movement as a part of their "Voices of the Civil Rights Movement" series. Boylan shared her thoughts:
There are few groups in America at greater risk than its transgender citizens. 78 percent of us report harassment as students at primary or secondary schools; a fifth of us report harassment by the police; and 41 percent of us have attempted to take our own lives.
And yet instead of embracing these precious, endangered souls, some people, in speaking of us, focus on bathrooms and operations and sequins. They fight for their right to call us by names which we consider slurs. They think of us as marginal, as entertainers or aberrations, rather than as fellow citizens seeking dignity and respect.
She then quoted Robert Kennedy from the night Martin Luther King was killed:
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our own country, whether they be white or black.
Boylan adds, "Now, 46 years later, we can add, 'or gay, or lesbian. Or trans.'"
Two weeks ago, New York City celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, led by lesbian and trans women, and it is these initial acts of bravery, justice, and activism that launched the LGBT movement forward. We, as a larger community, have certainly made progress, but while some of the most marginalized of our community continue to struggle, we cannot achieve equality. The day the LGBT movement meets true equality is when every letter in the acronym meets equality – lesbian, gay, bisexual, AND - the community we owe our progress to - transgender people.