TransGriot Note: Guest post from Cheryl Courtney-Evans, the editor of the Abitchforjustice Blog.
was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday; it was a national
holiday, resulting in celebrations, remembrances, and excerpts from his
speeches repeated virtually everywhere in these United States (and some
As I listened to the recitation
of one of his literary offerings from his “Letters from a Birmingham
Jail”, that concerned “Why we can’t wait”, I thought about the lesser
known equality promotion Rev. King did for the Gender Non-Conforming
(GNC; aka LGBT) community (as we know, he and Coretta both spoke up for
us on many occasions), and I couldn’t help but consider how this piece
could relate to the transgender community and how still today, too often
we still find ourselves at the very bottom of the “totem pole” of
So just as Rev. King enumerated
the reasons “Why we can’t wait”, I’d like to share with you all the
reasons WE as a transgender community can’t wait either…after all,
patience is suppose to be a “virtue”, right? Additionally, we’ve also
been told by other GNC advocates (most notably [usually] the LGB
segment), “Let us get ‘ours’ first, then we’ll address ‘yours’…”,
with regards to equality/rights…(yeah, riiiight). The obstacles to
“quality of life” are numerous for the transgender community, and for
lower income/African American transgenders, standing as we are at the
intersection of race and gender discrimination, almost insurmountable…
WE can’t wait, when young
transgenders (who come to their realization of their gender identity at
ever younger ages, it seems) find schooling a battlefield of bullying,
sometimes to the extent of death, and not finding nearly enough
protection/assistance from school authorities (and too many times
censure from these people).
WE can’t wait, when we stop to
realize that of all demographics, transgender individuals have the
shortest life expectancy; few are expected to reach the age of
retirement  (that is, IF they find a job to retire from).
When we’re stopped for minor
traffic violations, and find that it results in offensive altercations
with law enforcement and too many times going to jail, because of the
‘gender marker’ on our driver licenses, WE can’t wait.
WE can’t wait when, as in Atlanta, GA., we find ourselves homeless, yet cannot find shelter because available facilities are trans exclusive or hostile.
WE can’t wait when no matter
what our education or capability, we are disallowed employment (making
livable wages); that our wages too often must be “supplemented” by
commercial sex work (or that is the sole income; no alternative).
WE can’t wait, when too many of
our number find that the only way to “stabilize” their existence is to
become chronically ill and receive government benefits to survive (also
decreasing life expectancy; some through the infecting disease, but also
due to ‘cultural incompetency’ on the part of health care providers
with regards to the transgender community).
We know that when we dress to
leave home on any given day, we MUST be “on point” in our appearance, or
we stand the very real chance of verbal or physical abuse, by others,
and profiling/arrest by police (those who are suppose to be charged with
“protecting & serving”), so WE can’t wait.
So…although patience may be a virtue in many cases, many places, WE, the transgender community, CAN’T wait for tolerance, acceptance and last (but definitely not least) EQUALITY…our very lives depend on it.