I was having an interesting conversation with some folks the other day, and it was suggested that those of us in the trans community should always remind people that we want a seat at the table when it comes to discussions with community leaders, or speaking at events. I’m not so sure i’m on the same page as them, so I thought i’d write this blog to discuss it, and possibly help me think the process through.
I’ve been an activist for over ten years, having dealt with nationwide leaders, local political officials, and other movers and shakers in the lgbt and non lgbt community. I’ve always made my voice perfectly clear, and at times had to demand people listen to how certain things affect or don’t affect the trans and gnc communities.
So, here’s where I’m kind of stuck. I’m not sure that having to remind people that Trans and Gender nonconforming people exist and want their voices heard should have to be a constant thing. There are decisions made everyday that affect the lives of those under the trans umbrella, and our opinions are never asked.
When we stand up and talk about what effects us, we’re told to quit victimizing ourselves…to do something about it…to affect change if we don’t like something. My question is this: do gay men and lesbians have to remind people they want their voices heard? Are we as a trans community ever going to have to stop being loud and crystal clear as to what our needs are?
There was an event recently where there was no trans representation from my local community, and when it was asked why there was no one trans to speak at this event, the answer was, “We didn’t think about it. No one from the trans community called and said they wanted to speak.” Why should we have to?
It says to me, very poignantly, that we always have to remind people to ask us to share our voices and our opinions. LBG organizations have often taken money and donations from non trans friendly organizations, and when this is pointed out, the answer is “Oh, I didn’t know.”
So now on top of having to constantly remind people to have trans and gnc folks actively participate in community discussions, we now have to remind them to ask places and people they take money from whether or not they’re trans friendly? I say no.
I say they have the responsibility to automatically ask how the business or person they’re taking money from affects change and actively supports the trans and gnc communities. I’m not talking about simply hanging the “T” at the end of the acronym and calling themselves inclusive.
According to a February 2015 publication called TransInformational Impact done by the Funders For LGBTQ Issues, the trans community receives .015 percent of foundation funding, which equals about a penny for every hundred dollars awarded.
We need more pennies obviously, but we also need for them to include us without having to constantly remind them that we even exist. We need to have a seat at the table when decisions are made for and about the trans and gnc communities. When we do ask to speak up for ourselves, we don’t need to be told that not everything is about the trans community, or that we’re being aggressive and demanding too much.
The opportunity to have our voices heard loud and clear is not too demanding; it is being equal. It is our equal right not to be “forgotten about” when LGB(T) organizations receive funds from sources that don’t include the diverse trans community. This type of trans exclusion is not ok, and it needs to be called out.
Accountability without compassion is an act of violence. And so is forgetting about or excluding the trans community. We shouldn’t have to be constantly begging to be included and actively involved in processes and discussions that impact our lives. We can and will always speak for ourselves, whether or not our voices are wanted or heard. That’s one thing that will never change.