5 Big Takeaways From Creating Change
BY Daniel Villarreal
January 27 2013 11:27 PM ET
3) How To Get People Moving On Trans Rights
Homophobia and transphobia are both forms of sexism. Both stem from an outdated and repressive concept of how men and women are "supposed" to act. And both are hostile to any attempt to challenge or change gender norms whatsoever.
But the "trans agenda" seeks more than simply securing the same workplace protections and military service rights coveted by many LGB activists.
Rather, a broader view of trans equality seeks to demolish the roadblocks that prevent a person from getting their correct gender listed on government documents; the impediments that deny trans people the necessary hormones and treatment required for transitional health care; the rights to access hotels, hospitals and public accommodations just like everyone else; and an end to the inhumane practices that regularly sort trans prisoners into wrongly gendered detention facilities and then subject them to sexual and physical abuse. There must also be an end to the cycles of injustice that perpetuate sex work and HIV in the trans community.
Compared to the gay rights movement, the trans rights movement is several decades behind (or at least that's how one trans activist put it). But a broad coalition of trans allies and sympathetic supporters could change that.
Many would-be allies will first have to meet a trans person, question their own concept of gender, understand "Trans 101" — the basics on trans identity and etiquette when discussing trans issues — and then familiarize themselves with some of the many injustices and political challenges facing trans people today. Then it will take people to begin having discussions with trans and cisgender neighbors about the biggest issues the trans community faces. To be successful, the conversations must be "radically welcoming" to all races, genders and people of faith, and they must target potentially-sympathetic community leaders — such as church, political and business leaders — who might open their minds after hearing a trans person discuss their personal hardships firsthand.
But conference attendees are warned: any trans political campaign should also anticipate insidious attacks that characterize trans people as sexual predators, child molesters, prostitutes and "men in dresses" who can't wait to babysit and stalk your bathrooms. If voters have first had a chance to know trans people on a personal level — and to see them as active, positive members of their community — these vicious, commonplace attacks will falter.