Transgender individuals deserve more than a seat at the table

by Mikel LaPorte
Guest Columnist

I recently attended dinner and a show that I had been looking forward to for a few weeks. I had been looking forward to this night for quite a while.

The dinner was in this cool Boston restaurant where the staff dresses up in 1920s regalia. The show is an interactive experience where audience members become part of the show. It is loosely based on my favorite Shakespearian play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 

However, my excitement was quickly cut short when I tripped over an uneven spot in the pavement and seriously hurt myself. I was in too much pain to enjoy dinner, and by the time we got to the show my left leg was numb, so I could not stand.

The theater manager was very kind to find us seating, but sadly it was off to the far side of the building tucked far away from the happenings of the production. My dream of finally being one of the cool kids was immediately dashed as I was exiled to the corner only to observe rather than participate in the production.

I wonder if my transgender brothers and sisters can relate to this story in any way. We invite them into the community but then ask them to sit in the corner quietly.

Many of my transgender clients feel they are being told by others in the community to wait their turn, and not rock the boat regarding equality and protected rights. Ironic, since much of the rights the LGBTQ+ community experiences today started because of the Stonewall Riots, which were led by transgender activists such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.

Researcher Ilan H Meyer points out that group solidarity and cohesion are important factors in combating minority stress. As many transgender individuals feel left out of the larger community, they may not be as equipped to handle the stressors of being a minority inside a minority as they could be if they had the full support of the larger community.

Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) is March 31. With the political climate, both nationally and at the state level, being what it is, it is more important than ever that we recognize the lack of protection and discrimination faced by the transgender members of our community.

For my transgender brothers and sisters let me say you are perfect just the way you are, and you celebrate the Transgender Day of Visibility in whatever way feels gratifying and safe to you. To the rest of us, I say it is time we get our sh*t together! We must do better.

Here are some things we can do to support the transgender community:

- Attend a local Transgender Day of Visibility event.

- Use one’s preferred pronouns. These will vary by individual. If you aren’t sure, ask.

- Stop using transphobic language and call others out when they do.

- Write your senators and representatives calling for protections for the transgender community.

- Educate yourself on the differences between gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, sexuality, sexual practices and emotional attraction.  Many of these intersect, but they are all different.

Most importantly, remember, there is room in the show for all of us, and we are far better as a community when everyone fully participates.

Copyright The Gayly. 3/31/2019 @ 4:14 CST.