Sunday, August 28, 2011

We Have a Dream

Please note at writing, the planned dedication service for the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial has been postponed.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone. And as
we walk,
we must make the pledge that
we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back. - Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963
The reason Martin Luther King Jr. will always be recorded as one of the greatest civil rights leader is his ability to speak to the truth, build a coalition and most importantly, inspire and lead a people through their struggle. His iconic speech, delivered 48 years ago was a masterful piece of rhetoric. From it’s invoking of the United States Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the United States Constitution to the clearly Biblical references and his masterful use of Anaphora, the repetition of a phrase at the beginning of sentences, he draws attention to the wisdom of Lincoln while standing in his shadow.

Dr. King knew our human struggles were linked. The basis of many of our faith directs us to this fact. And for many without such a belief structure, there is the common desire amongst our brethren to care for the needs of each other.

The LGBT Communities are looking for similar leadership. Someone capable of speaking to the truth, build a coalition and most importantly, inspire and lead a people through their struggle. Our struggles are no where near the challenges the African American struggles were and still are in some cases.

The recent charge that gender identity protections harm women has been shown as the intellectual dishonesty that it is. Those offering that mindset a forum, discredited. This “separatist” movement with transphobia at its core is not new. In the mid to late 70s, Sandy Stone a sound engineer at Olivia Records was criticized, verbally attacked and even received death threats from a para-military arm of the feminist movement.

Sue Hyde of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and specifically its Creating Change Conference was a signatory to that letter. She has since condemned her own behavior and asked that the body of her work since then be evidence enough of her change she created.

“Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate.” -Bayard Rustin, organizer of the 1963 March on Washington
Sue Hyde is in an enviable position. You have an opportunity to Create Real Change. As a respected leader in our community, you can use the lessons you've learned from the past and channel it toward healing, towards unity, towards progress.

Leadership and leadership opportunities only happen every so often. You have found yourself at such a juncture. Time will judge all of us on whether we capture such moments or we choose inaction. You have the wisdom gained from your experience, the respect garnered from your years of dedication since and a captive audience of supporters in the community willing to embrace your vision for moving forward and leaving such harmful transphobic notions in the waste bin of our movement, where they belong.

The greater LGBT communities do not seek to eradicate those who hate us. Nor is our goal to get them to stop hating us. Our goal, like Rustin stated is to Creating Real Change, where legislatively, morally, and psychologically those that hate us can not openly manifest that hate.
I think more of us understand now that you can’t engage hate with reason, even when hate presents itself in the guise of reason.-Allucquere Rosanne "Sandy" Stone
There is no need to reason with people like this:

When someone uses the word "freak" to describe a transgender people, they are seeking to tear away our humanity, to make us less human, which makes us easier to kill. This is what the uses of pejoratives against African Americans also do.  No one who uses that word towards a transgender person should ever sit a table designed to promote trans equality, let alone be invited to the table a scant month after those statements.

"When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love." - Martin Luther King

Sunday, August 7, 2011

WWTGSKWaHD? (What Would Tolstoy, Gandhi, Sakharov, King, Walesa, and Havel Do?)

I dread writing this post. Not because it is laborious, or texting on my personal resources, but because my sensibilities are afflicted by the subject matter.

It is neither my desire nor intent to further inflame an already hot topic. There are plenty willing and so capable of stoking that fire. It is my only desire to offer a consideration, a course of action which may or may not resolve the matter, but it will define us as a community and how others outside the community view us.

On July 1, 2011 the novice Managing Editor of a small Baltimore based LGBT biweekly newsletter granted a public forum to two radical feminist wishing to make the argument that “gender identity” is a concept, and that protections based upon gender identity will promote harm to “women born women”. The Baltimore based broadside followed this up with an additional elevation of hatred on July 29, 2011 in which one of the previous writers expanded her viewpoints on why gender identity protection through hate crime laws is unacceptable. This in direct response to the pending trial of Teonna Brown, the 18 year old woman accused of assaulting a transgender woman at a local McDonalds in April.  It is not the purpose of this commentary to debate these issues. They are receiving enough of that already. Nor is it to challenge the blatant transphobia proffered by the authors’ assertions. Yet this topic has now been advance to the United Nations and has set the debate ablaze.

It is my firm belief that it matters not what befalls our community, however what is of significance is how we, as a community, respond which, in turn will define us.

Above all the transgender community is without question the most misunderstood and maligned minority group in our society. Much of this manifests itself in a state of ignorance, short of enlighten reasoning and latent hatred in respect both gender identity and gender expression. Every human being possesses a gender identity and expresses gender. For most their gender is consistent with the physicality and for some it is not. It is that simple and we are that some.

Tolstoy, Gandhi, Sakharov, King, Walesa, and Havel are mortals which have offered us pathways to non violent actions that have liberated millions. Our deliverance may well follow in these models.

When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him. – Bayard Rustin

 Many members of the transgender community have suffered long and enduring abuses to our persons, our dignity and to our loved ones. These hate filled essays are no different than the hate fill spats to the faces, the hate physical assaults with the genitalia of others thrust unto our faces, the hate filled degradation and humiliation of being told we were less than human. One might be considered justified to retaliate in like kind. But it is my firm belief that we lose if we do so. That in my eyes, our only solution is as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington suggested, protest for dignity confers the very same dignity.

Non violent civil disobedience and direct action have proven to be the most successful tools to authoritarianism whether its from our government or members of the broader coalition communities. including TransTories. How that protest presents itself is for or community to decide. I pray the spirit of nonviolence prevails