went back and forth about what I wanted to say today. I thought
about sharing some stories of the outrageous situations that have
resulted in the murder of transgender people, or the courage shown by
transgender people who are visible in the community, or the challenges
transgender people face when trying to access services here in New
Orleans. But I realized that most of those would service to elicit
an emotional response to get you do something. But it’s not
about getting emotional.
about responsibility and being good citizens.
often hear people say, “Aren’t transgender people really a separate
group from gays and lesbians?” “You know it’s one thing to
talk to these Louisiana legislators about gay issues but you will
completely lose them when you start talking about transgender issues.
They’ll freak.” Or “let’s deal with the easier stuff
first…gay youth, hate crimes against gays, then we can move on to
I can say is thank God, transgender people have not been so
irresponsible and poor citizens. Because if that were the case,
the Stonewall rebellion might not have happened until much later.
We would have waited years longer for the first queer person to run for
office in San Francisco. And early AIDS & STD education would
have been delayed and vital monies for early AIDS services would have
locally, we wouldn’t be discussing whether to expand the name of the
Lesbian & Gay Community Center to include transgender. The
Transgender Community Center might well be discussing whether to include
gay and lesbian. And rather than a Gay Pride, we would like to see
improved. We would have no Gay Pride.
God rather than trying to figure out who was part of what community and
what would be most palatable to the general population, leaders in
the transgender community have stood up, done something and have stuck
with the work even when it got rough which has continued to work to move
our communities forward.
Audre Lorde once said, “I know that my people cannot possibly profit from the oppression of any other group, which seeks the right to peaceful existence. We diminish ourselves by denying to others what we have shed blood to obtain for our children. I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle the forces of discrimination, wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.”
my question to you today is…are you ready to be a responsible citizen
of our community and ensure that the killing of people based on who they
are stops? Are you willing to stand up and make sure that when we
talk about services and rights for our community, we include all the
communities that make up the queer community?
If you are, great. Together we will create a community safe for us all. If you are not, please step aside because the rest of us are coming through.
Posted with permission. 11/26/02