My heart broke this morning when I heard about this hateful act that occurred right here in Denver.
Despite the nature of the hate crime that occurred yesterday, this post is not about politics. It is about love, safety, education and awareness.
Tomorrow of all days is Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the day we honor transgender folks who are savagely murdered each year as a result of their gender identity. Yesterday a trans woman right here in the Capital Hill district of Denver was the victim of a hate crime. Look what somebody did to her car.
It appears this act of hate was fueled by the election as “Trump” was written on the hood of her car. This is but one example as to why so many members of the LGBT community are terrified by the election results. Can you imagine how violating this must have felt to her? What else must she be worried about? Who is watching her?
I’m on the Board of Trustees at the Gender Identity Center of Colorado and have been volunteering at this special community resource center for the past decade.
Regardless of where we each stand politically, we all need to step up and care for our neighbors. How would you feel if this woman was your friend? Perhaps you’ve never had a trans friend, or at least you didn’t think you did. In a recent Minnesota study, 2.5% of high school students reported being transgender, gender-queer or gender non-conforming. That is about the same percentage as there are for Jewish people living in America. If you know a Jewish person, odds are you also probably know somebody who is gender non-conforming but may not feel safe to come out.
FIVE WAYS YOU CAN BE AN ALLY!
- HELP RAISE AWARENESS: Tell at least one person in your circle of influence about this local hate crime as a way to raise awareness. “Hey — Did you hear the horrible news about the hate crime in Cap Hill?” If you have children, employees, or students; use this as an opportunity to educate. Diversity is not to be feared, but rather it is the backbone of our great country. Forward this link to your friends, family and co-workers. It’s not as cute as a cat video, but it just might save somebody’s life!
- EDUCATE: Transgender folks identify differently than the gender they were assigned at birth. That’s all. We use the term gender non-conforming because gender identity and gender expression are on a spectrum. To keep it simple however, you can simply educate by saying that most trans people are either Male to Female (MtF) or Female to Male (FtM). Make it simple and age appropriate. You can explain to young children that a Male to Female for instance, has a boy body with a girl heart.
- IDENTITY vs. ORIENTATION. As an ally, explain that gender identity is who we are, while sexual orientation is who we are attracted to.
- USE PROPER PRONOUNS. Use the person’s preferred pronouns. A simple act of respect is to use the pronouns that the person identifies with. In other words, most MtF’s want to be referred to as she or her. If you are not sure, just don’t use any pronoun. Sentences don’t need to start or end with sir or ma’am. These are simple acts of kindness that cost nothing but can make the day of a gender variant person.
- DONATE. The Gender Identity Center of Colorado (GIC) is needed more today than ever before. This is a 501c3 non-profit organization that needs funding to support the community with free counseling and suicide prevention services. It is estimated that 40% of trans people have attempted suicide. If you want to help, please contact me or Karen Scarpella, the Executive Director of the GIC.
Make America love again!
(c) Credit photos CBS.
Transgender Day of Remembrance has occurred annually on November 20, since 1999. It is a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.
Now more than ever, we need to embrace diversity. As I write this in mid November of 2016, at least 27 known transgender people in the United States alone have been murdered due to their transgender status. One is too many! How many more have been bullied, harassed, discriminated against, or in any way made to feel bad or less than? Imagine what it must be like to be part of a community that fears being harmed simply for who one is.
There are far more gender non-conforming people than most people think. It was not long ago that it was generally believed that prevalence of gender dysphoria was 1 in 10,000 or so. Recently there was a large study of high school students in Minnesota reporting that 2.5% answered yes to a question about whether they identify as “transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or unsure about your gender identity.” When speaking about intersex condition, author and gender expert, Arlene Istar Lev recently asked the audience at a gender care training she conducted at The University of Denver in conjunction with the Gender Identity Center of Colorado; “Do you know anyone that is Jewish?” Of course, every hand went up. The answer is about 2.2% of Americans are Jewish. So if you know or love someone who Jewish, you just may know or love there someone who is gender non-conforming, even if they haven’t felt emotionally safe enough to share that part of themselves with you.
My vote is for us is to just everyone. Not regardless of gender identity, but because of the beauty of diversity. Imagine how boring the tapestry of our great nation would be if we only had one color in the pallette.