Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Today we remember those people who have been killed or otherwise harmed because their outside doesn't match their inside.
Inside our community, there is a different kind of violence against trans people. A recent petition urged the gay, lesbian, and bi part of the community to reject the trans part of our community. They did this because they think including trans rights with gay rights hurts gay, lesbian, and bi people. They also feel like trans members of our community interact in a way that is not helpful to the cause. We should reject this kind of thinking outright and recognize that it is driven by the same misguided fear that causes some to reject gay men.
Here are three things gay men have in common with trans people. This list is off the top of my head, and I'm sure there are hundreds of other things that could be added.
1. It's about our insides matching our outsides. I'm not transgender, and I don't pretend to know what it's like to be a trans person. But I do know what it's like to have my outside not match my inside -- and it is a horrible way to live. Once I could start being fully expressed as a gay man, I lived a happy life. Gay men should be the first to embrace people who come out as trans.
2. Some people are both trans and gay. We all know that our genitals do not determine our attractions. This simple fact is true for all people, including trans people. Rejecting trans people also rejects the part of them that is straight, bi, gay, or otherwise queer.
3. We have a common enemy. The same people who want to deny civil rights to gay men are using the trans community to deny us our rights.
Instead of fighting our trans friends, we should take the following steps:
1. Educate yourself. I don't know as much about trans issues as I should, but I do my best to learn. Fortunately, my trans friends are patient with my ignorance.
2. Find our common ground. The three points above cover some areas of common ground. By focusing on where we agree with one another, and spending less time on our differences, we are better prepared to act like a community.
3. Convert our allies. Chances are good that your coming out has changed the hearts and minds of people in your life when it comes to gay issues. Use their open-mindedness about you to change their hearts and minds about trans folk. When one of my co-workers said something ignorant about Caitlyn Jenner, I was able to leverage our relationship to open her mind about trans issues. You can do the same.
4. Fight our common enemy. It is the height of cowardice to leave a fallen comrade on the battlefield. Instead of jettisoning our trans friends, we should have their backs. We should join to fight our common enemy together.
Today is a day to remember trans people who are victims of violence. Today is a day to not only remember, today is a day to act.
I'm a gay father with gay sons. My mission is to work with the community to prepare them -- and other young gay men -- for a happy and successful life.