Just a short time until the 2020 election in this country, and it seems like every gain made under the previous administrations to preserve and enhance civil rights in the transgender community are being threatened by a seeming new rein of hate and misunderstanding.  The truth is, while violence against the transgender community is on the rise, so too is activism surging as this generation redefines what it means to be strong and transgender approaching the 3rd decade of the new millennium.

Better Representation For the Trans Community

In politics, for those that considered the transgender military ban a done deal, they can think again.  July 2019 saw inevitable pushback by many members of Democratic party in the form of the $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act which included an amendment, offered by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), that would reinstate transgender people to military service, reversing the president’s ban.  In an encouraging aside, MANY individuals from across all parties supported this piece of legislation, including the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

The emergence of many transgender politicians onto the national scene is becoming more commonplace now than ever before. Dynamic newcomers like Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, and scheduled Keynote Speaker for the first New York Coming Out Conference this October, recently announced she’s running for state Senate in Delaware. She would be the state’s first out transgender legislator — and the nation’s first openly trans state senator.  Ms. McBride first made headlines when she became the first openly trans person to speak at a major party’s national convention-the Democratic National Convention in 2016.  She hopes to continue the work she has done with state-level activists on a grander scale across the country.

Pride Around the Globe, Even in Places You Wouldn’t Expect It

Pride celebrations across the globe illustrate that, although the ignorant would have you believe that intolerance is the norm, glimmers of love and acceptance can be found in even the most seemingly inhospitable of places.  From Brussels, Belgium to Guadalajara, Mexico to locations in the deep south like Atlanta, Georgia-parties and parades and festivals abound celebrating pride in the LGBTQ community.

Fighting For Our Rights Throughout the System

For the many stories of abuse within the legal, education, or medical establishments, there emerges another of individuals who are fighting back against their abusers.  People, like former corrections officer, Meghan Frederick, who successfully sued California corrections for abuse and retaliation during her tenure with the agency and received $500,000 as a settlement, are chipping away at the establishment by speaking up, and by fighting for their rights as human beings with the same rights as every American.  There is also a history of abuse of prisoners within the system for identifying as trans. They are also engaging in legal battles to better the circumstances of inmates while incarcerated.

On the other side of the criminal justice system, Strawberry Hampton, of Chicago, was released Monday from Logan Correctional Center that houses women inmates outside of Lincoln. She was serving a 10-year sentence for burglary. Placed in a men’s prison facility, she fought the Illinois Department of Corrections to be moved to a women’s prison. In the men’s prison, she allegedly faced sexual assault, taunting, and beatings. She was transferred in December to the women’s prison in Logan County. Illinois state released Strawberry Hampton from prison in July.  Ms. Hampton vows to continue fighting for all of those who are in the same position.

“I’m fighting for everyone that was done like me — the people who don’t have a voice, the people who are scared, the people that don’t want to put up a fight because they know what I went through they’re going to go through as well.”

The Battle Will Be Won

No matter what economic circumstances these humans face, they are still fighting a battle that is befitting EVERYONE that it be won.  Their successes, their struggle, and even their failures should prove inspirational to everyone and not just within the trans community.  By taking these steps, and being courageous, they are leaving behind victimhood and embracing the position of strength—that of the survivor.

We tend to focus on so many negative stories and tales of loss that plague the trans community. The truth is, there is much that is bleak on the news and in politics today.  Sexual abuse, suicide, homelessness, and violence are an all too common occurrence for members.  Of equal truth is that these problems have ALWAYS afflicted any member of a society that identifies outside of normative stereotypes. This is particularly true for the LGBTQ community.  The fact that we are now covering these instances is undoubtedly a sign that many at least acknowledge the need to do so. To shine a spotlight on a community that has long been ignored by even those who would claim to champion them.  We are by no means getting the whole story or equal coverage, but at least the trans community is part of the narrative.