Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Be an Ally and a Friend: Transgender Day of Remembrance

I think we've all been stuck in something that makes us uncomfortable - a job, a conversation, even a piece of furniture. In the big scheme of things, this is minor. We can move on, fairly easily, to something else. And in general, society won't condemn us for it. We have simply enormous freedom in that respect.

But imagine being stuck in something that's not right, that doesn't fit, that's supremely uncomfortable day after day after day after day. And imagine that the only way you could become unstuck was by doing something that would take enormous courage, medical interference, and possible condemnation from both people you love and people on the street.

I'm sure I came up with a poor analogy above, but not being transgendered, it was the closest thing I could think of to what it must be like to be in the wrong body. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around how painful that must be. And I can only admire the extraordinary, mind-boggling courage it must take to finally make the switch.

And when someone does something that requires enormous courage and will make their world a better place and does no harm to anyone else, then they deserve full support and appreciation and kindness and most especially, tolerance.

The kind of tolerance that Tina Hester was denied on November 28th, 1998, when like many others that night, she met a man at a bar and took him home. And was murdered when he found out she was transgendered. And to make it worse, the local press reported that she "deserved" it for "tricking" the guy. Or Brandon Teena, who was raped and murdered on December 31, 1993, simply for living the life that felt right to him. His story has been portrayed in both the documentary, The Brandon Teena Story , and in the Academy Award-winning Boys Don't Cry .

Transgender Day of Remembrance was actually on November 20th, and I was confused about the dates. It was started in honor of Tina Hester and others who have lost their lives tragically through hate crimes. I figure it's never too late to bring attention to important issues, so here I am posting on the anniversary of her death. I was alerted to this important Day of Remembrance through Jami Ward's blog, Not THAT Different, and yesterday's post by Soccer Mom in Denial. In both of their blogs, they posted a wonderful PSA put together by GLAAD - the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which is called "Be an Ally and a Friend" and which features reminding us to be just that - allies and friends to the transgendered community.

Since those PSAs have been posted through the other two blogs, I decided to provide some suggestions for action posted by the National Center for Transgender Equality:

Things You Can Do For Transgender Equality
be an ally & a friend resource guide > things you can do for transgender equality

Transgender men and women often face discrimination, bigotry and hatred from their families, friends and coworkers. These harsh reactions usually stem from fear and a basic misunderstanding of the transgender community. By being an ally and showing your support of transgender people, you are doing your part to help end ignorance surrounding transgender issues.

Here are some tips provided by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)on how you can increase transgender awareness:

1. Look at your favorite organization's policies and ensure that transgender people are welcome to join your country club, your work union or your book group.
2. Volunteer to help get a transgender-supportive candidate elected.
3. Ask your local film festival to include films inclusive of transgender issues.
4. Work to pass a non-discrimination policy in your workplace. Slightly less than one-third of Americans live in a jurisdiction with laws that ban employment discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
5. Submit an op-ed to your local paper about the transgender community. This is an effective way to express opinions and distribute information on transgender issues from a variety of voices.
6. Plan or attend a Day of Remembrance Event every November 20. This is a yearly opportunity to remember those lost to hate-motivated violence directed towards the transgender community, and also a time to encourage people to take action to make the world safer.
7. Start or attend a transgender support or education group in your neighborhood. These groups are often a vital way that transgender people connect with one another. To view a clip of a fictional transgender support group on ABC's All My Children.
8. Encourage fair, accurate and inclusive media coverage of transgender issues. Many people learn about transgender people from watching television or reading stories in the newspaper. GLAAD encourages journalists to use its Media Reference Guide when writing about transgender issues. If you see transgender people being misrepresented in the media, contact us at

To read all 52 of NCTE's "Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality," please click here.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is a national social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people.

For more information about the GLAAD PSA campaign, please click here.


Unknown said...

Thank you for raising overall awareness of this issue.

soccer mom in denial said...

This is awesome!! Thanks so much for continuing the message of acceptance and love.

I mixed up the date though? Gosh, my brain is fried. Mush. Silly putty. Just, plain, gone.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Great post with a great message. Brava :)

Betsy said...

I had a friend in college who was transgender. And there was just no way on earth he could have hidden his effeminate nature.

And when I think about it I don't know which was worse for him: the bigoted attitudes of people around him or his own harsh appraisal of the acceptability of his sexual orientation after a lifelong inculcation in conservative circles.

It really made me realize how lucky I was to have the same sexual orientation as most of the people around me-- Something that's otherwise easy to take for granted...

Jami said...

Thank you SO much! You are really great to post this - but then again, we all knew that.

(I'm sorry I didn't reply to your email but it's been major wicked crazy here the past week or so.)

Anonymous said...

Great and very informative post.

anno said...

Excellent and informative post -- thank you!

Alex Elliot said...

Thanks for posting this! Acceptance is so important.

Flower Child said...

I'm on board! Kinda part of my profession too. Everyone should be warm and friendly - it's just the human thing to do.

Rebecca said...

Great post Jen _ I can hardly imagine how dreadful it must be to feel misplaced in your own skin - imagine then being hated for it! So dreadfully unfair.

Humans can be an intolerant bunch sometimes.