Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
We often use the term “LGBT community” when speaking in general of issues that impact a majority of people who fall into the categories that make up LGBT. It’s a misnomer, really, but it’s what we’ve got to work with. There really isn’t one unified community of all the queers in the world. We’ve got a large and diverse web of people from all walks of life, all ethnicities, all political persuasions who fall somewhere into the queer continuum. Yet we want to believe that somehow we are all working toward a common goal of equality for all. Occasionally we are, but not always.
Take T, for example. Transgender people are included under the rainbow umbrella of the LGBT community, though it has been argued that they don’t really fit. Gender isn’t, of course, the same as sexuality. There are different issues involved with wanting to change the sex you were born, and being sexually and romantically attracted to members of your same sex.
However, there is also a common bond between us all. Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of “She’s Not There,” a book about her journey from man to woman, writes that homosexuals and transsexuals have a bond because we both get beat up by the same people. There is more to it than that, of course, but Boylan, who looks at the subject with a sense of humor that is at times disarming, makes a good point. We have common enemies.
Gender roles are a sticky thing and there are many folks who have a vested interest in making sure that the either/or dichotomy of male/female stays firmly in place. The status quo doesn’t have room for any grey area, damn it. It would just make the world so much easier to navigate if everyone was heterosexual and everyone was appropriately masculine or feminine depending on the genitals they were born with, as if a penis or a vagina were some kind of instruction manual.
But it doesn’t work that way. And so the same line of thinking that calls transsexuals freaks calls homosexuals perverts and vice versa. When entire groups of people are maligned as less than human, violence is not far away.
On www.gender.org there is a list of nearly 40 trans people who have been killed due to anti-trans violence over the past two years. The list is chilling. Go to the site and read their names. Look at their pictures and see how and where they died. Two of the victims listed are from Michigan. Tamyra Michaels was shot in Highland Park on December 14, 2002. She died from her wounds a week later in the hospital. Nikki Nicholas was found February 21, 2003, dead of a gunshot wound in an abandoned farmhouse in Green Oak Township. You will also see individuals from Guatamala, Italy, Alabama, Washington D.C., and many other corners of the world.
Whether you’re gay or straight or trans, there is a sense of a shared humanity here and a look into the violence against this humanity that is senseless and sick.
On Nov. 20 we invite you to participate in one of the Transgender Day of Remembrance events that will be held across Michigan (see p. 27 of this issue for listings). The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to reflect on the victims of anti-trans violence across the world. In this we find one of our strongest connections: shared grief. Despite differences there are basic things that we all have in common. While people are murdered because of anti-trans bias, none of us, no matter where we fall in the LGBT acronym, are safe and none of us are free.