brandonteena

by Stacey Rice.

Recently I came across a story in the Lincoln NE Journal Star concerning the fact that 20 years had passed since the death of Brandon Teena, a young transgender man depicted in the movie “Boys Don’t Cry”. There was a quote in this article that broke my heart.

“A recent survey of 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming people found that 63 percent had experienced serious acts such as the loss of a job, eviction, school bullying so severe the respondent had to drop out, sexual assault or denial of medical treatment, according to a report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.”

Please read that one more time:  63 percent.

In the 20 years since Brandon’s death, have we made progress in gaining rights for transgender people? I would have to say “yes” but transgender people are a small percentage of the overall population and, as the articles states, “That makes a huge difference in the public’s understanding of what it means to be transgender. We end up seeing that reflected in much higher rates of discrimination for transgender people,”

So, as I pondered this, my thoughts came around again to the incredible amount of LGBTQ community energy, time, effort and money being poured into marriage equality.  On some days, it seems like that is all I hear, read, etc.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if just a small part of this massive effort was directed toward the incredible needs in the transgender community? Things that most people in the lesbian and gay community take for granted are every day struggles for trans people.images

When it comes to marriage, that right doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to the top of the list for most transgender people when you can lose a job, family, and housing, be denied health care or murdered for just being transgender.

I hold out hope that as this marriage thing fades, that the energy, effort, and resources will be focused on the trans community where so much help is needed.

I hold hope, but don’t confuse that with me holding my breath.

 

Queer Voices is a virtual space within QBlog where all kinds of lived experiences, ideas, and dreams from the LGBTQ and Allied community are featured. This space is all of ours. We aim for diversity in the thoughts, opinions, and subject matter expressed through the Queer Voices program. You may not agree with everything you read, but our hope is to provide a platform for the diversity of our community to thrive and interact. The views expressed here are those of the author.

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7 Responses to Queer Voices – Does Marriage Equality Matter to the Trans Community?
  1. 1/3/12

    In recently reading a friends blog I had a gut wrenching reaction. That I could not put my finger on the feelings I was having at first. Then I did what I always do when the powers that be succeed in separating us. I looked at the feelings behind the writing and searched for similarities between us. I have a phrase I have always felt to be true in equality issues that goes back to my teen years. “Forget the rhetoric we are all one unite”. As our histories have forever been intertwined. We are one community and our success as a hole depends on us being united and inclusive to all.

    I came out per say not that I was hiding in the 80’s. I went out to many gay bars and noticed that none of them had names on the outside that identified them. Many had numbers only. Even though they had names like the Flamingo, Vermies catch 22 that were known to their patrons. They all had a bouncer at the door that established the fact you were entering a gay bar and to respect the patrons or leave now.

    I will clarify that process of discovering the feeling. My mother is gay my uncle is gay two of my cousins are gay and so am I. I had allot of community to draw history on. My mother was very closeted in her professional life out of necessity as she was afraid to loose her job in Marketing. I never understood hiding until I heard the history from family members and their friends.

    The explanation behind the unmarked bars was this, until ver recently gay bars were against the law. In addition so was dancing with a person of the same sex. It was still illegal in many jurisdictions to have sex with a person of your same sex. Unless in private and was consenting and both over 18 years of age. Many Bars before that were not marked at all and were word of mouth as they were raided often by police. Many of the patrons took up cross dressing as couples so at a glance the patrons looked like any other straight bar. When the authorities found out that trick, cross dressing became illegal also.

    There were entire sets of statues written making all sorts of gay activities illegal Here is a place to find much of the history of chipping away at them all on one web Page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_history_in_California.

    The residual stigma had made it that even Gay AA meetings could not be listed in the main AA directory. Think on this Alcoholics were institutionalized just as Gay people were and they would not allow their fellow Gay members list there meetings as Gay.

    We had been making great strides for equality until The AIDs Epidemic hit full force. In my community it was 1985 that we saw the first people parish from AIDS. There was little understanding of the disease and even in our own communities the infighting began again. As the majority of the people dying and infected in the community were men. Some of the lesbian separatist were falling for the rhetoric.
    Again there were laws being put in place to separate us and deny us rights that were simple basic rights. To visit a loved one that was dying in the hospital from a disease they contracted possibly up to two decades before they did not even know that existed.

    Politicians like Lyndon La Rouche were touting on television that we should be quarantined and left to die. Thats right I say we even though I was not and am not positive they were persecuting us as a community. Any of us could have it, any of us could have been left to die, quarantined from everyone we love. There was a catastrophic failure of the health system. The establishment was not quick to jump up and say lets spend all the resources we have to save these people who were dying. The reaction was lets Segregate these deviants so they do not infect us.

    Fortunately our community ultimately Banned together to protest fight and raise money to help our fellow members. We also strived to get to the truth and educate the general public with people outside our community that recognized people were dying not deviants are dying.

    We lost an entire decade back sliding as fear mongers played to the ignorant and painted us as sexual deviants who deserved to die. Now not for being born different but for contracting an infectious disease just as may before us. But it was somehow different because of the way we Contracted the disease. There were arguments why should they waste resources and money on these deviants that choose to live this way? Again the argument of choice comes in.

    This led to a decade were it was open season to slaughter any one they perceived as a deviant. Although it has been happening for centuries. Cases like Matthew Shepard , Brandon Tenna , Billy Jack Gaither, Barry Winchell & Harvey Milk were highly publicized cases of the slaughter of LGBT people with in “ our community” But there have been thousands more that never make the news. You could argue that many who died of Aids were also murdered.

    On the Anniversary of Brandon Teena & Matthew Shepherd it is natural to delve into the real issues and look at the steps we take to gain equal rights as small and insignificant. To look to a specific history of what is happening to the section of your specific community. As we all do. We need to be very careful not look at this as separate issues as they are not. As what hurts one part of our community harms our community as a whole as it has been from the dawn of time. We have stood side by side thru the White night riots, Compton Riots and the Stone wall riots. Our histories and our futures are dependent on each other.

    So on the issue of gay marriage or same sex marriage is at the forefront now. The title is misleading as to the true purpose is not just the want of marriage and being denied such a right. It is the fight to dismantle laws that keep us separate and unequal. Just as the Jim Crow laws kept blacks separate and unequal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws Laws that exclude us from having the same rights as every other citizen in the united states are wrong and fly in the spirit of our constitution.

    How we go about dismantling them is another matter. The right to marry and being seen as equal spouses bring many other rights we have been excluded from. To file taxes with the same exceptions, survivorship benefits, the right to make medical decisions, the right of equal parenting. The right to share our spouses health insurance and not being taxed for it as a gain. The list goes on and on and on.

    The point is we should not create the same of separate and unequal with in our own community. So every day I try to live my standard of “Forget the rhetoric we are all one unite”

  2. My email is actually girlhowdy1@mac.com could you correct it?

  3. Personally, same sex marriage does matter to me as a transitioning woman ( a term I prefer to being called transgender). While I bear that letter of the lgbtqq soup I also identify with the L for lesbian. That said, no it is not on the top of my list though I do advocate when I get a chance. Marriage for me is not an ‘any time soon’ option for me. With the insensitivity I recieve in the lgbtqq community dating even seems impossible. When a gay man approaches you to settle a bet he is having with his friend concerning your gender, and asks “could you please go tell my friend you’re a man?”; Some of the worse hate I have recieved from the “community” it is even pretty easy to get short sited and stop caring about LGB rights all together and not feel like part of the community. It would be nice to see some energy directed toward transgender issues if anything education. If you want a look at my list of prioroties that would be number one. Second of course would be healthcare, which I have faught for at 3 companies by myself in Portland and lost, most recently my job was lost as a result. Third would be employment. But first will always be education.

    • Teagan, thank you for sharing your experiences as a transitioning woman and for your thoughts on community and priorities!

  4. Interesting post, Teagan. It would seem I’m not the only recipient of discrimination and intolerance from the LGB and especially T communities. (No data regarding the QQ. I know none) I won’t go into details, but that discrimination and intolerance is precisely why I no longer volunteer for BRO or SMYRC. Ironic, isn’t it, that our own people have adopted the same exclusionary tactics as our straight/conservative adversaries?

    It’s simpler (and much easier on my psyche) to accept that I’m not acceptable to my own kind and get on with my life. If they achieve marriage equality, wonderful, but I don’t expect to participate in that, any more than I expect the T community to stop judging me on the basis of my presentation or my alleged “authenticity.”


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