Chett Pritchett, a Facebook friend from Washington, DC recently wrote an essay in his notes outlining why he stands for Transgender Rights. After reading it and recognizing his analysis to be accurate, I asked his permission to repost. He gladly agreed.
Why I Stand for Transgenderr Rights
by Chett Pritchett
Some gay men I know act as if transgender rights are just something that they know they should work for because they are included in the alphabet soup of letter we encounter in our movement. Most gay men I know don’t even “get” the transgender discussion, let alone want to support civil rights for persons of all gender identities. Sometimes it’s because we are simply uneducated; sometimes it’s because exploring gender identity challenges our own binary gender constructions, because after-all, we’re men who love other men; and sometimes it’s because we’re deeply afraid that in seeking civil rights for others, we will somehow lose the precious political powers we have gained. Equality for all must mean that we overcome these deep fears and misconceptions.
I know that my own identity was shaped, for better or for worse, around what was considered masculine and feminine. Much of my adolescence was shaped, not solely around physical and emotional attraction to other males, but because the society around me told me that the things I enjoyed: singing, dancing, reading good literature, and acting were all “gay.” In reality, my early sexual identity had little to do with actual sexual experience. It depended greatly on the social construction of gender. This is true for most others, too – regardless of sexual orientation. My transgender friends have helped me see that a deeper understanding of gender and gender identity is not only healthy for those who are transgender, but for all of us who transcend the binary structures of masculine and feminine each and every day of our lives.
It is because of those friends who are transgender that I am able to stand for transgender equality. From San Francisco to Boston (and towns and cities in between), I have been fortunate to meet transgender and genderqueer individuals who have shared their stories and have allowed me to be part of their journey. I stand for transgender rights because of them. I stand because they are unable to have consistent and quality medical care. I stand because they are discriminated against in the workplace (if they are fortunate enough to make it through a job interview). I stand because their legal marriages and health benefits are called into question. I stand because sometimes changing their driver’s license could be a task more daunting than applying for a home mortgage (if it’s even allowed). I stand because it takes them longer to get through airport security because of ignorance. I stand because going to the bathroom can be a frightening experience for some. I stand because they have been denied housing and because homeless shelters aren’t much of a shelter for people who don’t fit easily into “men’s housing” and “women’s housing.” I stand because I take seriously the Christian theological idea of the redemption of all creation, and I believe truly that all means all.
In his letter from a Birmingham jail cell, Martin Luther King, Jr states that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Later he preached that “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.”
Won’t you stand with me, wash yourself in God’s universe, and work for equality, so that all means all?
Want to show your support? You can do something today. The Transgender Law Center sent out the following Urgent call for action yesterday:
Congress is back in session, and now is our moment to take action on ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We must tell our federal legislators how important these protections are to our community and that we need a law that protects against workplace discrimination based
on sexual orientation and gender identity. While there are many issues that need to be addressed to bring about equality for LGBT people and to protect our rights, ENDA is the bill that is being considered in Congress right now.
If it is to pass, we must speak up, loud and clear.
Contact your Representative and Senators to ask them to take swift action to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Do it today. They need to hear, loud and clear, that this bill is our top priority.
Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: (202) 224-3121. Give the operator your zip code and ask to be connected to your Representative. Then, after leaving your message, hang up and call again to be connected to each of your two Senators.
Suggested voicemail message: My name is _____ and a proud resident of (your city/state). I am calling in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017/S. 1584). ENDA protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from job discrimination and it is critically important. Please take swift action to pass ENDA. I can be reached at _______ (provide your phone number). Thank you.
Take a stand today to end employment discrimination against LGBT people! It only takes a few minutes to make the calls, but the impact of your actions will touch lives across the country for many years to come.