I came across this article as I was breezing through Facebook today, being mindful that this month is Transgender Awareness Month and November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the time of year where mainstream society and LGBT allies and the LGBT community tends to decide for itself that now is the time to focus on the needs of the transgender community and pay respects for those transgender persons who have lost their lives to hate crime or hate influenced suicide.
But is awareness enough? Is dedicating one month out of the year for the transgender community all that effective at improving the quality of life for transgender people? Are we not already aware of the inequalities, hatred, discrimination, and violence directed at the transgender community– especially towards transgender women of color? How do we go from being an aware community to a community of action towards social justice and equality? When do we start acting for the long-term rather than raise awareness here in the immediate short-term?
Now more than ever American transgender people have to be more than just aware of what is at stake. Now more than ever the mainstream media and society-at-large needs to be aware of the injustices and prejudices and instances of hate crime targeting innocent, law-abiding transgender individuals. Our representatives in government need to hear our voices and understand our situations. We need to become more vocal and show a unified front of solidarity against discrimination policies and harmful legislation that would deny us rights to employment, fair housing, medical care, public facilities, education, and public services. We have to be communicators as well as advocates for ourselves and each other. We cannot sit back and allow injustices and negative stereotypes or dangerous rhetoric to steamroll over our rights and protections.
The struggle for equality and respect in our society cannot be reduced to a once a month pep rally or memorial service.