While this summer ushered in one of the most historical moments for homosexual couples across the nation, a huge demographic of the LGBTQ community was left behind: trans and gender non-conforming persons.
In fact, just days before the country-wide legalization of same-sex marriage at a Pride Reception at the White House, transgender activist Jennicet Gutiérrez called out Obama and his administration for their lack of concern over the abuse of undocumented LGBTQ persons in holding cells across America.
Her cries of “we’re dying” were met with a chorus of boos from prominent leaders from the same movement to which she supposedly belonged. “This is not for you,” another person called out to her, as security ushered her out of the building, “This is for all of us.”
The largest and most acknowledged versions of LGBTQ activism, in many ways, is not for all of us. Chad Griffin, the President of the Human Rights Campaign, makes over half a million dollars a year while homeless LGBTQ youth, people of color and undocumented persons are continually disenfranchised by the movement that supposedly is trying to help them. Activists like Gutiérrez march in the streets demanding this simple, yet somehow unreachable goal: “No Pride of Some of Us without Liberation for All of Us.”
Historically speaking, the increasingly exclusive nature of the gay pride movement is palpable. It is horrendously apparent too in the new film “Stonewall” by Roland Emmerich, which retells the story of the Stonewall Riots that transpired in the East Village of New York City in 1969.
These riots were paramount in the launching of LGBTQ advocacy in America, but many people forget or negate the fact that these riots were started by trans-women of color. In the new movie portraying these events the main characters are cis-gendered white men, perfectly symbolizing the erasure of transgender persons and people of color that continues to exist in mainstream gay activism.
Truthfully, visibility for transgender people in our country has indeed steadily risen in the last two years, but at the same time, safety has not. Since the beginning of the year, reportedly 20 trans-women, predominately of color, have been murdered.
This is not including unreported cases or incidents where the victim was mis-gendered in the media and on official documents. This is an epidemic. While the statistics on crimes against trans-persons are almost impossible to collect with accuracy, advocates estimate the number of murders has increased exponentially in the last 3 years.
It can be hard to admit that in many ways the fight for equality is nowhere near done in our country. Considering these murders, the racial-wealth divide and the overall systematic oppression of communities in the world by the US, it seems as though fights to combat hate and disparity in our nation are meek and in some ways meant to subdue movements.
When women took America by storm in the early 20th century to demand voter rights, women of color were often pushed to the back of the marches, being told by their white counterparts, “This is our time, you’ll have your chance soon.”
This pattern is repeating itself now in the exclusion of certain demographics from LGBTQ activism, but this does not have to be the case. True advocates for safety and peace for all communities know this. True advocates know they must rage on.