In this moment of visibility as people around the world celebrate the 50 years since Stonewall, it is important to center the lives of trans people who have been at the heart of the LGBTQ movement since its beginnings.
Harassed by local police simply for congregating, Stonewall’s LGBTQ patrons -- most of whom were trans women of color -- decided to take a stand and fight back against the brutal intimidation they regularly faced at the hands of police. One year later, the first LGBTQ Pride marches were held, establishing June as Pride Month.
But this year, Pride Month has seen the deaths of at least five transgender people, the majority of whom were Black transgender women.
It is vital that, as we celebrate the LGBTQ movement’s progress, we do not forget to celebrate transgender people. The more that transgender and gender expansive identities are normalized in our society, the less violence will be inflicted against those who do not conform to strict social norms. We have to uplift transgender advocates working day in and day out to create real change.
A powerful example of trans leadership can be found at Casa Ruby. Based in Washington, D.C., Casa Ruby provides social services and programs for the most vulnerable in the city and surrounding areas. Transgender women of color founded and run the organization and provide housing and support to countless LGBTQ people.The first time I visited Casa Ruby, I was in awe. it was the first time that I’ve seen trans women in charge -- not just leading something temporary, but really, truly in charge.
The only other time I’d seen trans women have any sort of power was through social media, photographs of idealized trans women all projecting themselves as beacons of perfect femininity. These women are often professional influencers and celebrities, and it’s their job to please the eye. Both social and traditional forms of media are also rife with similarly stereotypical images of trans men and non-binary folks.
It’s phenomenal to have such powerful LGBTQ influencers and celebrities out there. However, these three neat categories of picture-perfect trans women, trans men and non-binary folks don’t account for the fact that trans and gender-expansive people come in all shapes and sizes and from all professions and locations.
Gender is a vast, explorative and magical thing. People everywhere have varying and unique levels of masculinity, femininity -- and sometimes both or neither. Social media, while useful for finding connection and community, is also a selective experience that can lead us to pain.
During Pride it can sometimes feel like even more that these are the only images saturating our feeds. It can quickly turn us into pools of resentment and self-doubt, feeling like we don’t belong.
So, as Pride month comes to a close, I am here to remind all of my of my trans and non-binary family that you are enough.
You are trans enough. You are human enough. Let’s celebrate and uplift each other in all our differences and strengths not just at Pride but also throughout the year.
We do not need anyone’s approval to be the gender that we are. All we need is to do is be ourselves, and that is enough.