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The four most important things I learned during my first year of transition

A transwoman’s perspective

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I’ve never revealed any personal details of my life in the articles that I’ve contributed to Orlando Weekly. Mainly because I didn’t feel that they were relevant to the topics at hand. However, since this is our Pride issue, it seems like an appropriate place to mention the fact that I’m a transgender woman. This wasn’t a secret. I’ve been publicly out since February. I’ve just never addressed the matter in this publication before. I’ve learned a lot since I started my transition, like the fact that women’s pants pockets are useless, but I’d like to utilize this space to address some more pressing matters as well. I’ve compiled a list of the four most important things I’ve learned during my first year of transition below. Because Pride is – or should be – about being out and proud of who you are, no matter your gender.

1. A lot of transgender people don’t trust the Human Rights Campaign
HRC wants you to believe that they fight for the rights of everyone who falls within the LGBT spectrum. Their track record, on the other hand, is rather dubious when it comes to trans inclusion. Before there was HRC there was the Gay Liberation Front, and the archaic anti-trans sentiments of early GLF members like Jim Fouratt still influence senior LGBT leaders today. In 1995 HRC’s then executive director, Elizabeth Birch infamously stated “Trans inclusion will be a legislative priority over my dead body.” HRC referred to the community as the LGB community until 2004, when they begrudgingly recognized the “T.” In 2007 HRC also fought to exclude transgender individuals from ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act). Moreover, HRC didn’t employ a single transgender person until 2008, 28 years after their foundation. The lobbying organization appears to be more inclusive on the surface today, but their transgressions persist. In April, for instance, a representative of HRC asked a trans activist to remove a trans pride flag during a marriage-equality protest outside the Supreme Court.

2. The trans community is poorly organized
Most of the trans girls I’ve met have told me they’ve met very few other transwomen. There are several reasons for this. Acrimony within the transgender community and lack of leadership are a big part of it. We don’t have big lobbyists or corporations fighting for us, and few politicians and celebrities are sympathetic to our cause. Another reason is because trans-on-trans discrimination is fairly common. The sad truth is that the only person that has ever really said anything hurtful to me about being transgender was another trans girl. I also know a girl in California who attends support-group meetings for the sole purpose of ridiculing those in attendance. There are also transwomen who wish to completely disassociate themselves from the community once they feel they are truly passable. I am not aware of any transman-on-transman discrimination. I honestly don’t know that much about transmen and their experiences. I suppose that statement also speaks volumes about our community’s lack of organization.

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