After decades of progress and working towards acceptance for the LGBT community, people are seeing rights regress.
And no community is feeling the latest wave of hate more than the trans community. Battles won long ago are being refought with very different results. On Nov. 4, the community gathered at the ArtServe building in Fort Lauderdale to discuss victories, losses, and the many challenges that lay ahead.
Transinclusive Group hosted the night, and Nik Harris, Director of Strategic Outreach and Engagement at the Human Rights Campaign, led the panel discussion. Joining her on the dais were Rajee Narinesingh, a Trans Activist, Author, Actress, & Reality TV Personality and Outreach Advocate for TransSocial; Brayland Brown, MBA, Co-Director of The Smile Trust & Board President of Transinclusive Group; Amelia Leon, Founder & Director of Reflect Collective; and Jessmarie Gonzalez, CEO of TTHP United & Behavioral Health Community Specialist at Care Resource.
The room was packed with community leaders, including some representing organizations that don’t offer trans services. The goal is to gain an understanding and perspective of trans issues and spread the message.
Part of the discussion focused on visibility. Narinesingh said at one time she had anxiety about leaving the house to do even simple things like going to the store. While things are getting better, but called on allies.
“It’s one thing to show up to an event like this. There was a time when there were no panels for trans or GNC or non-binary. There was a time when we didn’t have a seat at the table. The progress is there, we can see it. But are you going to just show up? Or are you going to be a true advocate for us?”
Amelia Leon said an important part of bridging gaps and gaining understanding is addressing why cis-gendered people are often uncomfortable around trans people.
“They haven’t self-reflected. You have not looked in the mirror and asked ‘Why am I uncomfortable with other people who are choosing to live the life that they want?’”
November is Trans Awareness Month, Transgender Awareness Week is November 13-19 leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.
The trans community is being attacked in legislatures across the country, including Florida. Measures include bathroom laws requiring people to use the gender they were assigned at birth to banning teens from school sports to banning gender-affirming care.