In 1969, a famous event happened at Stonewall Inn in New York, that most queers know and remember as one of the most important days in our history. It’s heralded as the start of the LGBT movement, when people first took a stand against oppression to throw bottles and heels and wigs at the police officers that came to break up the gathering. Today, we often point to all the amazing gains we’ve had, the recent Tammy Baldwin election, etc., and pat ourselves on the backs, “Look how far we’ve come.” Yes, we have lots yet to cover. Yes, we’re definitely not done. But haven’t we done good?
Let’s take a step back and look at who really participated at Stonewall. Not the pretty poster-child cis-gendered gays, but drag queens and transgender people. And where are they in our movement now? Many of the anti-discrimination laws recently put into motion by the Human Rights Campaign have quietly excluded Trans, because it would be too hard to pass an act that truly included everyone. Identifying as Trans is still considered a disorder by the American Psychological Association, known as “Gender Identity Disorder”. According to the Policy Instituted of the National gay and Lesbian Task Force, much of the population still believes that Transgender people are gay or lesbian people who are so uncomfortable that they have to change their gender to be “straight”. It’s no wonder that some Transgender people don’t like to be considered under the LGBT umbrella, because they feel invisible even among an underprivileged spectrum.
November 20th is National Day of Transgender Remembrance, and it’s a day to celebrate and remember the people who have often been forgotten or made to be invisible. Gamma Rho Lambda, the LGBTQ sorority on campus is holding an art display to celebrate Trans identities, and to educate the campus about a marginalized group. The art will focus on subverting and challenging traditional ideas of gender, and aims to bring awareness to the UCLA community.
As fellow queers, we need not necessarily go to this particular event, but we should take heed. Not educating ourselves to be better allies to the Trans community is doing to them what the mainstream often does with ourselves: silence our voices.