Covid worked hard to cancel any semblance of joy these almost two years, but the LGBTQ+ community worked harder.
At every obstacle, we've pivoted and cultivated space for the community to feel seen and supported through virtual seminars, minimized in-person events and other unique approaches. Stand with Trans's 2021 celebration of its 2nd Annual Trans Empowerment Month is no exception.
Throughout October, Stand with Trans will offer more than 50 virtual workshops highlighting keynote speakers, entertainment and musical showcases centered on the theme "Be YOU." The workshops encourage LGBTQ+ youth and all trans community members to be their authentic selves, despite recent anti-trans U.S. policies. To offer some guidance, direction and support, here are seven things you can do to empower yourself during Trans Empowerment Month.
1, Find a support group
Finding a support group to navigate your identity is often the first step in being your authentic self. Even if you haven't come to complete terms with who you are, knowing there's a safe space to fumble, ask questions and vent, can make you feel free. When you join a group that helps you laugh and forget about the world, it feels reassuring.
With approximately 1.4 million transgender adults and 1.3 million trans youth in the U.S., there are many options out there. It's just a matter of finding the best fit for you. For those that are still on the search, tap into Transgender Michigan. They've compiled a list of transgender organizations and groups throughout the state that will help make the search stress-free.
2. Immerse yourself in trans representation
If any month is the month to create a cocoon of trans representation, it's this month. Put up your best trans flag or queue up cult classics such as "Paris is Burning." Whichever way you choose, make sure it's loud and trans. This month will help in dismantling the negative, often sarcastic, representation shown in the media. Lean into that by living as you are and surrounding yourself with honest and accurate trans representation, not the negative representation Hollywood tries to spin as trans-living.
3. Show yourself compassion
Being trans isn't easy in this world. You contend with external and international battles that are often unaddressed due to a lack of information. It's a good time to show yourself some grace. When those moments of conflict pop up, seek a safe space that will ease the burden of handling all the mental tension. Go for a walk, curl up on the couch with some comfort food or decompress with a hobby. Whichever you choose, make sure you dedicate the space to your wellness
4. Attend a trans-led seminar
Knowledge is power and going to a seminar about trans life is empowering. Good seminars offer perspective, information and awareness that has the potential to impact society as a whole positively. Aurora Higgs, a Black trans woman advocate and one of Stand with Trans's keynote speakers, sheds some light on the value of learning more about trans issues. "[You must] make sure you're advocating for the community, not just yourself," she said. "I think it's great to self-promote, and I think everyone should, but we also have to let the community know there is so [little] Black trans representation. We must remind the community we are one of many that don't have the privilege of being heard."
5. Reaffirm your pronouns
Don't let your co-workers' passive-aggressive disregard of your pronouns slide this month. Call them out. Pronouns are a significant part of your identity, and people do not get to ignore that. While choosing your battles is wise, you must stand firm in who you are to continue with the "Be YOU" theme. People need to recognize you. So, go ahead and correct Janice at the next morning meeting.
6. Get involved in changing the world
If you're still learning to navigate your identity, this one may not be for you. But for those seasoned trans folks and allies, getting involved in local and national politics could be the display of power needed to feel self-empowered. Reach out to local officials, work on lobbying initiatives or volunteer at Ruth Ellis Center to advocate for gender-affirming care. National Center for Transgender Awareness also offers a lot of information on how to make your voice heard.
7. Educate yourself on the transitioning process
Coming out as trans brings a lot of questions. Like, should you get sex-reassignment surgery? So for this month, start to ponder if you're ready to transition medically. Consider getting more information on the process. Stand with Trans' Program Manager Lu Evergreen says their seminars help with clarifying some confusion: "We have a lot of surgeons [presenting] who do trans-affirming surgeries," they said. "I think that's helpful for any trans person who [is] considering transitioning medically. They get to talk with the surgeons and get their questions answered."
Learn more and register at https://standwithtrans.org/beyou/.