On Sunday March 31st, the International Transgender Day of Visibility, the transgender community from all over the country gathered at the Mayne Stage on the far Northside of Chicago. This was a night like no other. It was the beginning of something great. This was a night to celebrate those in our community that are striving everyday to make a difference. People from all walks of life, from all corners of the nation were highlighted for their efforts to bring positive change to a community that is misunderstood at best and persecuted at it’s worst.
As a writer and as a transgender woman, it was an honor for me to be in a room full of people that are actively making a positive difference in the world. Transgender activists and advocates using their individual platforms to effect change in this country. From a group of over 360 nominees, 100 individuals were selected for this inaugural list. People like;
Janet Mock – Writer/editor
Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler - Writer/filmmaker
Christina Kahrl – Sports writer - EPSN.com
Kate Sosin – Journalist - Windy City Times
Bonnie Wade – Translife Center Project Manager
These and many, many more men and women have found the meaning in true community. They don’t shy away from making their voice heard when it comes to the oppression of our community. Their courage to stand up for our community is something that should have been recognized a long time ago.
“We are actively writing the chapters of our own revolution.” Janet Mock
A huge thank you goes out to Jen Richards and Toni D’orsay for having the insight that as much as we need to highlight the pioneers of years past that fought for us and blazed the trail we now walk, but we have to spotlight and say thank you to those in the here and now that are leading the way in building the strength of the transgender community, those who are in the trenches fighting for those who are fighting HIV/AIDS, working with our brothers and sisters that are incarcerated and those forced to work the streets for survival.
As a person who is just starting out my journey in being a voice and advocate for a community I love and am proud of, I took away great strength and inspiration from the people I met Sunday night. There are few other places you will ever find with such a great diversity of people, that at its core, share so much.
It was not long ago that I wanted to hide who I was and who I use to be. It was not long ago that my own desire to stay hidden jaded my view of my own community. It wasn’t long ago I said things that I now regret that caused division instead of unity.
It has only been because the work of some of these people and the support I have found in and outside the great diversity of the trangender community that has given me the strength to be open and honest. To embrace and take ownership of who I am and the community I’m proud to belong to.
Sunday night gave me the courage to move forward with what I need to do. This community gives me strength to stand up for who I am and for the rights that have been denied to too many for too long. It inspires me to think bigger, to reach farther, and be more, to be a dream realized.
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