Shameless admission: I’ve been watching “I Am Cait” and have found it to be incredibly informative. Not that I didn’t already know this before, but the struggle for transgender folks, even in places like California, is huge. On more than one occasion, I’ve found tears welling up in my eyes after hearing the stories of trans people, particularly trans teens. They are amazingly brave, strong people.
Just a few years ago, I didn’t know an openly transgender person. While I certainly didn’t hold animosity or ill will toward the trans community, I didn’t understand it like I do now. Admittedly, I’ll never fully understand it, in the same way that a straight person will never fully understand my perspective. But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t try to better understand where others are coming from.
There’s no doubt that straight people take things for granted that gay people can’t. But I think many gay people take things for granted that trans people can’t. And I think there are a lot of gay people who don’t see the “trans issue” as their problem. They are wrong.
Trans people are a part of our community.
We are all misunderstood by millions of people. We all face similar problems in our lives. People often discriminate against us. More importantly, though, is this:
Trans people are a part of humanity.
Have lesbian, gay and bisexual people become so busy fighting for our own rights that we now lack the same compassion and understanding for trans people that we demand for ourselves from straight people? For some, I believe the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ This has to change. Our experience in whatever minority group we’re in should teach us to relentlessly pursue equality for everyone, even if we don’t completely understand what all people are going through at all times.
The ‘LGB’ is stronger with the ‘T’ — not weaker. If you don’t believe me, meet some trans people. Get to know them. Hear their stories. They. Are. Amazing. Many of them face so many things that I have never and will likely never have to face. When you refuse to listen to these stories, refuse to learn more about them, refuse to advocate for their equality as hard as you advocate for your own — you are doing the very things to the trans community that you complain about others doing to you.
So, go. Show the same compassion to others that you demand for yourself. If you don’t understand their perspective, try harder. If you think the “trans issue” is an “issue” at all, I’d encourage you to do some serious reflection. After all, isn’t it true with any “issue” that there are real human beings behind it? It may be easier to think of it from a macro view, but it’s the tougher micro view where understanding is born and progress is made.
The fight for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality nationwide is far from over, but the fight for trans equality is just beginning. As much as we tell people to stand on the “right side of history,” I sure hope we take our own advice.