We’re in this together

"Our movement will be an utter failure if we leave behind our transgender sisters and brothers," says Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson.

by Troy Stevenson
Freedom Oklahoma

November is a month dedicated to transgender awareness - and the Transgender Day of Remembrance - but if we are ever to make true progress, every day must be about trans awareness.

We have seen tremendous progress – in a relatively short period of time – in arenas such as marriage equality, protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations, bullying, and LGB acceptance.

However, our movement will be an utter failure if we leave behind our transgender sisters and brothers. They were the heroes of Stonewall. They have stood with the rest of our community in every step of the march toward progress. Yet, they face the most discrimination. They deserve our loyalty - our solidarity - and we must deliver.

According to UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute, there are 700,000 transgender folk in the United States, and they face tremendous bias and hardship. Compared to cisgender-Americans, members of the trans community are twice as likely to be unemployed and four times as likely to live in extreme poverty; yet few states have employment protections.

Further, one in five trans individuals reports being homeless at some point, and more than half of those report being turned away from shelters and/or faced harassment – even sexual assault - when they are housed; yet housing protections are rare nationwide.

Medical care is vital for the trans community and almost thirty percent have been subjected to harassment in a medical setting or denied care all together; yet protections in public accommodations are denied in more cases than they are offered.

Freedom Oklahoma has made a commitment to fighting for trans rights, and to including the trans community in setting the strategy and tactics in that fight. In the next year we will increase Freedom Oklahoma’s public education focus on transgender health. We have made one of our highest legislative and municipal priorities advocating for trans inclusive protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations. And we hope that our counterparts in other LGBTQ organizations around the nation will join us in making trans equality a top priority in the continued fight for legal and lived equality for the entire queer community.

There is no room for compromise when it comes to the most vulnerable in our movement. Once again, trans folks were there to stand with other members of the LGBTQ community from the very beginning. A trans woman of color literally threw the first punch in the Stonewall riots, and yet the focus since has been on the cisgender segment of the movement. That cannot be ignored, and it is up to our generation to create a paradigm shift in the way we think of LGBTQ rights. We must demand that no one is left behind, and accept no excuses.

Freedom means freedom for everyone, and until we are all equal none of us truly are. We have celebrated well-deserved victories for queer-Americans, but it is time to get back to work.

Let there be no doubt: Our fight is far from over, and if we don’t stand together, we stand for nothing.

The Gayly – November 13, 2015 @ 8:40 a.m.