More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Guest Post: When Will We Get it Right? A Reflection and a Challenge
As part of GLAAD's mission to elevate voices from the LGBT Community, we are lifting up the lives and stories of transgender people for Transgender Awareness Week, as well as the Transgender Day of Remembrance. GLAAD is also partnering with MTPC (the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition) to release new videos for the I AM: Trans People Speak campaign. You can participate in the I AM: Trans People Speak campaign by submitting your own video here.
By: Noah Alvarez, WeHappyTrans.com
You know, there has never been a more urgent time for trans* people in America.
I'm sure you haven't thought about it much, and are probably still celebrating the awesome "W" America took home when we collectively re-elected our President this past week, as well as the passing of marriage equality in several states, but there is still much work to do. There is still a community of voices and souls that have been swept under the rug.
Yes, legislation is changing and political battles are being won when it comes to transgender rights, but as we have seen with the devastating situation in Aurora, the wrong choices are being made more often then not when it comes to the decent, proper treatment and inclusion of trans* people...and yes, eventrans* kids.
In a recent HuffPost blog, my good friend and trans* heroine, Jen Richards, of WeHappyTrans.com wrote:
"A new day is dawning for trans people. Of that, there is absolutely no doubt. The collective and growing momentum of public opinion, medical support, legal action, and media attention make the acceptance of transgender individuals every bit as certain as a rising sun."
This is certainly accurate, and even comforting but I still find myself afraid for my community of brothers and sisters because it seems that one thing is missing in this monumental move toward inclusion and equality: accountability.
We all know about accountability whether we choose to utilize it for our own personal growth or not.
As an Afro-Latino transman, and a man of faith, I count it a privilege and a unique gift to be able to see all human beings for who they are and not what they are. As a young person, I sense the urgency amongst my generation of 20-somethings to finally get things right. When talking with someone who is not transgender, especially people who consider themselves men and women of faith, it is easy to note the drastic difference in perception when it comes to modern civil rights, because as Vice President Biden stated, transgender rights are most certainly civil rights. It is truly unfortunate that people are having a difficult time swallowing that pill.
Not that my humble opinion matters to many, but as a person who has been lifted out of the trenches of one bad life experience to the next, through the manifestation of my faith, I am disappointed in the celebrities, mentors, and spiritual leaders I've looked up to for so many years.
I came across a blog that proudly boasts it's members ability to bleed out the weak-willed, with one young member, a man of faith no-less, commenting on the Vice President's endorsement of transgender equality, writing:
"The party of freaks and geeks panders to the lowest of the low without a care on how it looks or sounds to normal people. Its a coalition of all the weirdest elements who's only thing in common is they are not the normal ones."
People who are not a part of the LGBT community have a hard time understanding what the "fuss" is all about, even when presented with the unsettling facts and statistics that paint the portrait of who our community is and what we are working through to achieve normalcy and to maintain our dignity as human beings.
This is where my heart sinks into my stomach and my mouth gets a little dry. When will people do better, and in turn, become better?
Many wonderful men and women speak about loving others, patience, kindness, a heart of forgiveness, compassion, etc. but when it comes to transgender people their values suddenly do not apply to "those people".
Less than a week away from Transgender Day of Remembrance, all I can think is when will we, as a collective whole, evolve?"
I've spoken to countless people about the issue of compassion and the state of humanity, and the majority of people seem to understand the limitless power of a united human race, standing against the social, economic, spiritual, and physical enslavement of the minority. The problem is that compassion is only extended to those we deem worthy of compassion.
As I have only transitioned two years ago myself, I am just now really embracing a radical approach to activism. I have made it my personal responsibility to be visible, be vulnerable, and to be aware so that my words may carry some weight in this movement. I challenge the GLB communities to start making these kind of conversations happen. When we can understand just how far from grace we have fallen, we can then start to do the work of educating people about the importance of compassion to all people, and not just those we understand.
I believe that all human beings (yes, even the guy quoted above) are capable of understanding the need for collective peace, no matter what religion, race, culture, economic status, gender, sexual preference, or level of education blankets their soul.
I, as a transgender man, should not have to watch friends commit suicide because society considers them to be a disgusting abomination and a "freak". The great misguided opinion of bigots and the purposefully less informed is that when a person who is different is depressed,
it is their difference that causes them pain but in reality, it is the oppression from society that causes them pain. We are limiting others in life because we refuse to accept that there is more to people than our own personal experiences show.
Young kids who are questioning their gender identity should not have to grow up under a glass ceiling of stifled potential and fear. Rather than embracing our kids, yes even the gay and transgender ones, we are teaching them that unless you are white, cisgender, and heterosexual, you will never be as good as those who are and you are certainly not worthy of equal opportunities, let alone peace in your home and at school or in the workplace.
During this month of purposed awareness for the transgender community, please think about the children. Do we really want our children growing up with the same prejudices, biases, and hate for people who are different from them? We talk so much about working to eliminate bullying in schools, but many times it's not the kids...it's the parents who say they have a heart full of love but walk with disdain on the tip of their tongues.
As a twenty-two year old man of the transgender experience, but more importantly as a man of faith, and a human being, I'm simply asking other human beings to embrace a consciousness that cultivates compassion and understanding rather than a defense against differences.
We can do better. Accountability is the key to truly practicing what we preach.
Noah Alvarez is the co-founder and lead contributor for WeHappyTrans.com, a nationally praised online community space that highlights positive transgender experiences and reports on global community news. Noah is recognized for his leadership as a young transgender person of color, within the trans* community and abroad, as well as his mentorship of LGBT youth and LGBT persons of faith. He continues to advocate and mediate for transgender youth. He has made it a personal mission to spread awareness on the lack of spiritual support for LGBT Christian youth and to educate parents and spiritual leaders on this issue.