March 27, 2015
I can help protect the trans people I love by using my cis-privilege for good. I can begin to do that by being an active bystander for my trans friends whenever and wherever transphobia arises in public.I’ve been trying to write this blog for a while, but it’s been hard. In the last year, the trans community has suffered from an epidemic of violence, both physical and psychic. Black trans women targeted and murdered for who they are. Trans youth we’ve lost because society wasn’t strong enough to appreciate them. It’s hard to write about these tragedies without falling into sadness or anger, or without raising the visibility of the victim’s deaths over their lives. It’s also hard to write about it without knowing exactly how, as a cis-gendered ally, to make it better. But I know I don’t have the luxury of time to figure out all the answers before taking action. And so, as an ally, I am choosing to begin by writing about the importance of loving trans people, particularly trans youth, some of whom tragically never had the opportunity to live out their full potential, including their capacity to love and be loved. As an ally, I can create a culture of love for trans people by not only bearing witness to their deaths through vigils and protests, but also celebrating their lives and many accomplishments, by bringing that intentionality into my choices about what I post, quote, and write about online, beginning now. I can advocate for love for trans people, by making sure our laws protect them, not target them, by calling my state legislators to support trans anti-discrimination laws, conversion therapy bans, as well as laws and policies that address trans youth homelessness. I can help protect the trans people I love by using my cis-privilege for good. I can begin to do that by being an active bystander for my trans friends whenever and wherever transphobia arises in public. I can help change society’s feeling toward trans people toward one of love, by talking to people outside my bubble about the richness and resiliency of trans lives. I can start that by talking with my in-laws the next time I see them about some of my trans heroes, and seeing where the conversation goes. Finally, I can support love for trans people, particularly by financially supporting organizations that foster love for trans people, such as Camp Aranu’tiq, a camp for trans and gender non-conforming youth. Maya Angelou, may she rest in peace, once wrote: “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Through these words, Ms. Angelou has helped me choose love over anger. Of course, anger is an important motivation for change. However, if my activism is only rooted in anger, it will only consume and not nourish my activism.