The gay rights movement forgot T. And by T l don’t mean the drink that comes in flavors like “Honey Ginger” and “Hibiscus Apple”. I mean the T in LGBTQ+, the T that refers all identities that fall under the Trans umbrella such as transgender, genderfluid, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, agender, non-binary, and otherwise gender-variant. Cis-normativity is a thriving reality, and erasure of trans identity occurs even among the queer community.
The battle for LGBTQ+ rights began at the Stonewall Inn, when trans women started a riot to protest police brutality towards the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout history, the entire LGBTQ+ community together with their allies, united in the struggle for equality. However, once a lot of the rights of lesbian, gay and pan/bisexual people were acknowledged, trans issues were somehow overlooked, pushed aside for more popular causes like marriage equality and gay rights. The problem itself lies in the title of the movement. Gay rights. While that may include multiple sexual identities, the exclusion of gender identity is glaring. People somehow feel more comfortable discussing issues relating to sexual orientation (LGB), and are usually less open to talking about gender identity (T) and the struggles trans identifying individuals face. These are important conversations we need to have, especially in today’s political climate, and we can’t push aside the issue any longer. If our goal is truly equality, it is up to us to make sure that goal is realized across every letter of the acronym of L G B T Q.
“If our goal is truly equality, it is up to us to make sure that goal is realized across every letter of the acronym of L G B T Q.”
Although LGBTQ+ rights have come a long way in recent years, many of these rights are currently under threat, with the trans community being particularly vulnerable. The Trump administration is reversed protections against workplace discrimination for trans individuals, efforts have been made to prevent transgender individuals from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, and the administration is working to implement a military ban on trans identifying individuals. In overall society too, violence against trans people, overwhelmingly toward trans women of color, is at an all-time high, a dangerous overlap of racism, sexism and transphobia. Recently, two openly trans women were elected for public office. This is a great triumph for civil rights, and is proof that society has been making great strides in recognizing trans identities. Hopefully this is the beginning of widespread acceptance throughout the world, which makes this the prime opportunity to start such discussions.
November 20th is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is a time that memorializes those lost to transphobic violence, and brings awareness to the issues trans identifying people face. This is a call to action. Whether you are gay or straight, cisgender or transgender, it is your imperative to fight the injustices being perpetuated against the trans community. This is a call to stand together with the trans community, to fight with them in their fight as hard as we fought ours. This is a call to stand up for basic human rights, to start conversations, to spread awareness, to speak up against violence. Until equality is achieved, every week should be transgender awareness week, every day should be trans Day of Remembrance. Transgender rights are human rights, and we will only truly be free once all of us are free.