Life is a Journey - Make sure you get the right roadmap to the universe

I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Moving Beyond Pride

Saturday, August 11th was to be a day of unity for all as we were to attend, participate, educate and celebrate the diversity of being transgender as part of the LGBT population in New Hampshire.

The first organized Pride Event in the city of Manchester was occurring on that day and our leadership team at TransGender New Hampshire (TG-NH) had been busy working steadily toward creating a space for ourselves at this event and in securing attendees to assist with our campaign.  Our theme was to be one of information and education and to dispel the myths and perceptions which many still hold in their mind's eye of the transgender population at large and to bring about awareness of what protections were lacking for the population in regards to lack of civil and human equality and fairness rights such as employment and housing discrimination.

As the event drew nearer and the time to the event itself closer, we began to realize that there were too many unresolved concerns that were not being addressed by the Pride Event Organizers to safely and effectively continue our involvement.  It was on the Thursday morning prior to the event that an email was sent out by the steering committee attesting to the sudden change in plans:

It is with great disappointment that the Steering Committee has decided to neither participate in nor support New Hampshire Pride Fest. We came to this decision because of concerns about safety and security, lack of safe public accommodations, and requests from trusted and respected allies in the broader NH LGBT community to reconsider. We were not assured that our community could participate safely and effectively in Pride Fest. Our goal was to build visibility, educate, and build capacity for trans* rights in New Hampshire and it quickly became abundantly clear that our participation would do more to hamper those goals than to work toward them.

It was difficult for me, personally, to watch the News Media event coverage as one of the spokespersons for the event uttered in front of the camera how this event was to celebrate the gains within the gay population within the state of New Hampshire.  She mentioned that there were now laws in place to grant marriage rights and laws in place to prevent against discrimination.  She closed by stating that this was an event to celebrate those victories and those gains and that "We have everything we need now in place to move forward".

That last closing sentence really struck me to the core.  I understand how often the transgender realm is tied in with the LGB ticket but, in reality, our needs are so vastly unique in ways which gay rights can not extend to.  Although the state of New Hampshire has marriage rights and housing and employment safety protections in place to prevent against discrimination of a person based upon their sexual orientation, there is no such provisions of any sort in place to protect an individual who is transgender..... who presents as a gender that is variant from their birthed biological sex.

Such key issues as being able to have a license or official id whose gender marker is aligned with the life they lead within that gender is often difficult to obtain without formal laws in place to guarantee it.  Having to reveal to someone upon presentation of official documentation that their license shows a person of one gender while they are attempting to peacefully live their live as the gender they have transitioned to creates a needless dichotomy which works to segregate, isolate and discriminate against the individual.  Bars may refuse to serve liquor to a person citing that the person in the license is NOT the person they are seeing in the id.  Employers can choose to not hire someone simply and specifically based upon their own personal biases and discomforts which leads to higher unemployment rates within the transgender community.  The presentation of a gender that varies from what is on their license can oft cause law enforcement to question motive, as if dressing as a gender opposite of their birth one is a sexual act of some sort, which is almost never, ever the case.

Additionally, transgender individuals now face a new challenge which is upon them, of losing the potential right to vote in public elections if they are unable, due to state laws, to obtain identification which matches their gender presentation.  For the latest news on this, please visit the following link

In it's simplest form of explanation, being gay is not the same as being transgender.... sexual identity, (who one wants to BE WITH) is mutually exclusive to the concept of gender identity, (who one sees themselves as being... man or woman).  It was these key issues which could not be voiced at the Pride Event and it was sorrowful, at least to me, to hear that Pride Representative utter the words on WMUR Television.... "We have everything we need now in place to move forward".  The truth of the matter is that WE does not include US.  In reality, we have little in place for protecting the rights of those who are transgender.  That is something we seriously need to work on.

I hope that we can work together as an organization to help bring that statement to fruition one day, but it appears we have a lot of work yet to accomplish that goal.

To learn more about the TG-NH organization, please visit us at:

http://www.tgnh.org/index.html

or find us on Facebook.... Transgender New Hampshire