The first time I went to a Pride March and community festival, I left my five-year-old child with friends when I visited the staging area for the parade, because the place teemed with individuals I supported, but I was afraid of the questions my child might ask and my inability to answer.
The next time I went to a Pride March, I went with my husband, a seminary student, and we marched with the United Methodist church we attended. We marched with friends who hoped to marry someday and friends celebrating a thirty-year commitment to each other. We waved at supporters along the parade route and ignored vitriolic chants from the Westboro Baptist Church as we marched past them.
The best Pride March and festival I ever attended was about six years ago when I met up with my son who is Trans, and our friends to celebrate our shared commitment to humanity, to love, and to acceptance for all.
I’m of a generation that grew up understanding that sex was assigned at birth based on genitals and chromosomes and codified on your birth certificate. As teens, we questioned that understanding while sitting comfortably in the dominant heterosexual world. I had openly gay friends in college, but in my late 20’s colleagues weren’t always comfortable being “open” in the workplace.
A lot has changed since then with emerging concepts in gender expression, and I’m thankful my son offers me a safe place to ask questions. Through our conversations he has helped me significantly broaden my understanding of gender and gender identity. Through his experiences I’ve begun to understand how much our world needs to change.
Reports from the National Transgender Discrimination survey are frightening – assault, harassment, discrimination, firings, evictions. Nearly 80% of Trans students report incidents of harassment and assault. In 2018, 27 individuals – that we know of – were killed because they were Trans.
This March, Monica Diamon was shot and killed while being treated in an ambulance in Charlotte. Last month, two Trans black women – Riah Milon of Ohio and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells of Philadelphia were killed for being.
Being Black. Being women. Being Trans.
Nearly 1 in 5 hate crimes are motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias.
1 in 4 Trans individuals will face a bias-driven assault, and rates are higher for trans women and trans people of color.
The same survey reports that 26% of Trans people lost jobs due to bias, 50% were harassed on the job and 20% were evicted or denied housing.
The recent Supreme Court Bostock ruling is a wonderful step forward on a long path to protect and ensure the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Yet, only 16 states have Transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws. North Carolina isn’t one of those states.
Revisit your Civil Rights history and remember that act was signed in 1964, but just last night, someone was on the street somewhere peacefully resisting institutional racism. As goes racism, goes discrimination against the Trans community.
Many members of the Trans community live in poverty. They face barriers to healthcare. And in most states, your birth certificate will always carry the name and sex assignment you were given at birth. You will not be identified as who you are.
While the Covid-19 pandemic prevents us from marching during PRIDE month, it does not prevent us from taking action.
It’s a time to be bold, North Carolina.
Let’s stand up for the rights of our LGBTQ+ community as we stand to remind America that Black Lives Matter, that poverty can be prevented, and that healthcare should be available to all.
We’ve seen ourselves at our best and at our worst in the past few months as we hunkered down to prevent a wider spread of the Coronavirus. We practiced social distancing and hid behind masks and gloves to avoid the illness.
We are no longer the same. We will not return to normal. But we can create something better, something more humane and inclusive.
Unless everyone is treated as equal in our society – employment that pays a living wage, access to affordable healthcare, food, shelter, education, opportunity – no one is equal.
For additional resources, see: