It was the season for flashing reindeer, decked halls, silent nights, and double-checked gift lists. And those gift lists did not come only from brother Johnny and Aunt Sue. There were telethons and radio marathons and mail-athons and pass-the-basket-athons, each asking for gifts of money for a favorite cause or politician.
They reminded us that there were only so many hours left to reach a goal or to claim that additional tax deduction. No wonder that many of us may feel tapped out after the holidays.
All the money spent and given may help us to remember that we can give more than only treasure at any time of year. This may be an excellent time to pause, and give a few minutes of our time instead – time to better understand our fellow passengers in this world, perhaps to better understand the views of others that we may not share, or the needs of others that may have challenges we were spared, or life experiences that we never lived.
Here’s a bold suggestion for my fellow LGBs: let’s set aside a few minutes to try to better understand the T in LGBT. Gay and lesbian people have a long history of waffling between empathic support and discomfort with being grouped with transgender people. How often have we heard gay men say (or maybe heard ourselves say) that they don’t want to be confused with softer, more-feminine guys? Same said by lesbians who don’t want to be seen as a masculine stereotype. So why are homosexuals mixed in the same LGBT acronym as transgender people?
It is easy for us to forget others as we struggle for our own identity and acceptance. Sure, we understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, but, we worry, maybe others won’t. And it’s just so tedious to continually explain to our parents, our straight friends, our work colleagues, and our politicians, “That’s not me. I’m not like that.”
So why did the “T” get included along with “LGB?” It wasn’t so many years ago that no one bothered to ask if a person being beaten up was gay or trans. Almost always, the question still isn’t asked. In schools across the country, the bully doesn’t first inquire of his or her target to whom is he or she attracted. The bully simply senses that the target is different, and that’s enough. Even those of us who may have “passed” as being no different nevertheless often felt the sting of shame or fear that we were, indeed, different. It was never about sexual orientation or gender identity – it was about being other than “normal.”
The LGB community has come a very long way in recent years. Our social acceptance, our legal rights, and our financial security — all have increased dramatically. But our T siblings are still struggling. It’s easy to forget that in those early years when we didn’t make a distinction, it was drag queens and trans people who threw the first high heel of the Stonewall Rebellion to demand just treatment.
So let us all spend a little bit of our time trying to better understand our trans siblings. At Our Fund, we want to make it easy for all of us to do just that, and do a good deed for the local community at the same time.
On Monday evening, January 27, Our Fund is presenting a special benefit screening at the Gateway Theater of “Just Gender,” a feature-length educational documentary about the transgender experience. “Just Gender” is narrated by Tony and Emmy-award winner Bebe Neuwirth, and produced by Fort Lauderdale-based Buddha Dog Productions. All proceeds will go to benefit Ft. Lauderdale’s SunServe and its program serving the transgender community. Tickets can be reserved online at www.our-fund.org/justgender, or by calling Bryan Wilson, SunServe, at 954-764-5150.
So, after the flashing reindeer returns to storage along with all the ornaments and holiday music, let’s educate ourselves more about those in our community that are still struggling for social acceptance.
Anthony Timiraos, CEO/President
Our Fund, Inc.
Our Fund is a tax exempt non-profit organization with a mission to promote a culture of philanthropy by uniting donors with organizations supporting the LGBT community. Focused on expanding philanthropy in South Florida and working to develop stronger non-profit organizations, South Florida’s only LGBT community foundation has been established to help build endowments that support donor’s charitable interests including organizations providing services throughout the LGBT community.