I’m a native Houstonian proud of our Lone Star traditions, our trans community, its history and being one of the people who helped make some of that history. I’m also exceedingly proud of the award winning leaders that we have produced locally that have in some cases achieved a statewide, national and international footprint and following.
I wrote a post last yeardiscussing the hard, solid thinking I was engaged in about the state of the national Black trans community. I pointed out more diversity was needed in our Houston and Texas trans community ranks and what I said back in March 2011 bears repeating once again.
As I mentioned, I was blessed to get the opportunity of attending the 20th annual Houston Transgender Unity Banquet for the first time in over a decade last weekend. While I enjoyed seeing everyone who was at the Sheraton Brookhollow and meeting some new rainbow community folks and allies in the process, I was still concerned about the lack of diversity in the room.
This is the Houston trans community’s signature event and the Unity Banquet reminded me once again how monochromatic and vanillacentric in outlook my hometown trans community leadership ranks have become in terms of the folks who are out there representing its public face. I also believe the ‘pay to play’ activism model has had the deleterious result of creating a fiscal participation barrier and shutting out low income GLBT people from shaping the Houston GLBT community and the policies it advocates.
In non-white communities there is already the ossifying impression that the GLBT community is an overwhelmingly white one, and that perception plays into some of the pushback and resistance the entire rainbow community gets in its human rights fights. That perception problem is one our right wing opponents are increasingly trying to exploit and use as a wedge issue as they oppose our human rights push.
In a multicultural city of over 2 million people such as Houston, when we are contemplating fighting for a rainbow community human rights city charter referendum that will require the votes of a multicultural coalition of progressive Houston voters in order to pass it, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed now before that ballot initiative gets rolled out and taken to the voters if we wish to win that fight. Failure to seriously address this problem will result in another electoral loss for this community and I don’t want to see that happen to legislation we desperately need. .
Frustration is brewing among Houston’s non-white transpeople. It’s fueled by not only the ongoing killing of our transsisters and the feeling that no one cares about it, it’s also the lack of visibility and seeing trans role models who look like them. Visibility matters and is necessary, especially to the people who don’t see themselves represented in the organizations that are purported to represent them and speak for them.
If you think this status quo situation is okay, or you think that identity politics shouldn’t be part of this rainbow community rights movement, you’re naive or being obtuse about the fact that race matters, even in our little trans subset of society. We get microaggressive behavior aimed at us every day by the parent society and our rainbow community subset of it, and just because we transitioned doesn’t mean it stopped.
But back to what I was discussing. Diversity is sorely needed in our Houston trans ranks and it’s sad I have to repeatedly state what is so no-brainer obvious.
It’s on you peeps that make up the leadership of these groups to ensure there is representation in them that reflects the ethnic diversity of Houston, the state of Texas and its TBLG community and but your behinds working to make that a reality.
And yeah, y’all ain’t the only people I’m going to call out on this state of affairs. I’m going to put the non-white Houston trans community on blast too in a separate post.
Here’s the first suggestion as to how to create that diverse community. Ask us. But you’d better do it fast because the clock is rapidly ticking on your opportunity to do so with a fed up non-white trans community.
What I can tell you is that if the diversity problem isn’t dealt with, you will find yourself staring at a situation in which non-white transpeople will say frack it and form their own trans organizations designed to represent their interests and won’t look back.