Change is Coming

| Nov 24, 2008
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Miss RhoI’ve been quite the busy little tranny for the last couple of weekends. And I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone as well. But there is method to my madness. (Or so the mad always seem to claim.)

On November 15th, there was a nationwide call for protest over Proposition 8 from California. Prop 8, as you probably know, added a ban to that state’s constitution on same-sex marriages.

The local protest was held outside Cincinnati’s City Hall building. At 1:30 in the afternoon. And despite the rain, more than 300 people attended. Pretty astounding numbers for a city often referred to as the most conservative in the nation.

Now, I realize that demonstrating against something that passed in another state may seem a little Quixotic, but as I said in the video, I’m glad I went. Then, on the 21st, the local Metropolitan Community Church hosted a Transgender Day of Remembrance observance. Despite this being the 10th anniversary of the event, it was the first time I attended. And not only did I go, I volunteered to speak. I’ve talked a big game in the past, encouraging more support, more attendance at events like TDOR, but I haven’t followed through. Except for appearances at Pride events, I’ve been a closet activist. So, what’s changed? A number of things. While I’ve advocated participation online for years, I really haven’t seen it materialize. People are not marching in the streets, dressed like me, and waving around little red books. And they say if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, and expect a different result, you’re insane. On a personal level, I’ve realized lately how empty my life has become. While people all around me were energized by different political campaigns, I really didn’t care. I haven’t been passionate about sports, movies, music and bands, or even the blogs of friends and strangers. My faith in love is gone. I can’t get excited about who’s leading the competition on Dancing with the Stars or what Jack Bauer’s doing to save the world on 24. A life that devoid of interest really leaves one wondering, why am I here? Am I really just waiting to die?It’s rather depressing, when you get to that question.So, instead of seeking out a dirt nap, I’ve decided to find some meaning. And this is as good a time as any.The political winds have indeed shifted in the United States. Whether you love Barack Obama, or loathe him and everything he stands for, you have to admit: he’s gotten people fired up.

But this is not about the President-elect, or an endorsement or condemnation about his policy proposals. This is about the grassroots effort that’s mobilized in the last six months. (Though I will say, it’s pretty amazing to have a Commander-in-Chief who has uttered the word “transgendered.”)

Change is coming, but it will only come if we are there to work for it. There is an opportunity in this nation to make enormous gains in civil rights, and public perception of ourselves as a community, and as individuals. There is an administration entering the White House that is at the very, very least willing to entertain our ideas. The Democratic-controlled Congress will have the ability to enact laws prohibiting discrimination. Whether they act on it will depend on our willingness to say “Hey! We deserve equal rights. We deserve to be treated fairly.”

So, why protest California’s Prop 8 from Ohio? Because it wasn’t about Prop 8. That amendment was just the catalyst to call for overall equal rights; to protest close-mindedness and disparity in the law. It was an opportunity to say “Hey! I don’t think that’s right and I’m not going to be ignored.”

So, why would a transgendered person protest a gay-rights issue? For one thing, if I do regain faith in love, and find a guy, why shouldn’t I have the right to marry him? If I decide to live full-time without surgery, or continue as a part-time woman, I should have the ability to love and live with the partner I choose.

For another thing, transgendered people don’t wield a lot of political clout in the country. Not right now anyway. No one knows how many of us there are, because so many of us are closeted. So, in order to have our voices heard, we need allies. And you have to be willing to fight their fights if you want them to fight yours.

At the Cincinnati TDOR event, there were about 40 people. Non-transgendered outnumbered T’s 3 to 1. That tells me there are people willing to side with us, but we can’t take that friendship for granted.

And when 300 people see a crossdresser at an event protesting Prop 8, many of them are going to think, “Hey, maybe the transgendered aren’t so bad. Maybe I should speak up for them as I’m writing my Senator.”

I do realize that many of us don’t give a bull’s nipple about civil rights, or equal protection or even same-sex marriage. And there’s very little I can say to change that. So, instead of continuing, let me share with you what I said at TDOR:

I’ve never been attacked, harassed, bullied, or even threatened. That’s because most of my life has been lived from the safety of the closet. That, and I’m the size of a bull moose.

But in 1993, I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s not far from where Brandon Teena was living. We never met, and as far as I can tell, our paths never crossed. And like most people, I’d never heard his name until it was too late.

I was devastated to hear about the murder, and wondered if there was something I could have done. Brandon associated with some bad people. But what if he didn’t have to? What if others, like myself, had found Brandon, and taken him under our wings? Would he have turned away from that crowd? Would he be alive today?

It’s too late for Brandon. For Brian McGlothin, for Angie Zapata, for Duanna Johnson, and for too many others.

But, it’s not too late for everyone. For there are those among us who need help. Many put themselves in danger because they have nowhere else to go. We need to save the ones we can.

We need to find the transman contemplating suicide, because he’s tired of the bullying. We need to find the transsexual who’s streetwalking to earn money for surgery. We need to find the crossdresser who’s hanging out at rest areas and parks, because she doesn’t know where else to go.

We need to show them that it doesn’t have to be like that. Look around you. We’re all here tonight…we may not know each other, but in our own ways, we’re family. We’ve saved ourselves, in some cases, we’ve saved others. We can be that beacon of hope for those still in the darkness.

I’ve been very fortunate along the way to find friends who were also positive role models. Smart, caring people who demonstrated that we weren’t freaks or oddballs just by living proudly.

I’ve tried to thank them by paying it forward, by welcoming newcomers to the community, and talking with those still in the closet. I haven’t always done a great job, but I’ve tried. And I hope you try too.

I hope you invite that person, trans or not, alone at the bar to join you. I hope you have something on the Internet that indicates you’re willing to talk, and to listen.

We should remember the dead, but we would best serve their memories by saving their brothers and their sisters.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

Ronnie Rho has been writing for Transgender Forum since May of 1999. One of these days, she'll get it right. She's been described as the "world's most famous recluse," but only by people who don't know her very well. She is unmarried, and lives in Cincinnati.

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