As I begin this post, I want to remind my readers that I use my platform to promote acceptance and love for everyone. Every single person. All Are Welcome is not for cuteness or lip service. I live and breathe the sentiment behind my writing. It is my passion to shed light on the injustice bestowed upon people from all walks of life, but particularly those who are silenced or pushed to the side. With that disclaimer, let me begin.
I was recently part of a small group that met monthly to discuss diversity and more specifically, bias and prejudice. This topic is very personal to me, so if a group is assembling to educate and learn, consider me there. We were led by a knowledgeable guide who offered insight, education, and a perspective that I appreciated. Some of the material struck a chord deep within. I wept more times than I care to admit and am changed by what I learned.
At each of our meetings, I listen and learn about the lies used as weapons and stated as facts to manipulate, oppress, and harm our African American communities. I identify so much with the language of racism, anti-racism, and assimilation. Above all, I finally have words for something I have not been able to describe in my own community.
I was so passionate about the connection between what is happening to the African American community and what I see in other marginalized communities that I gently press to extend the conversation to include everyone. Neurodiverse kids, dyslexia, LGBTQ, selective mutism. I try to draw connections because as a mother of a transgender daughter, I know too well how all of this feels. This oppression and manipulation is widespread to MANY communities! I attempt to speak many times but to no avail.
I watch in horror as a group assembled specifically to promote diversity and equity among ALL people is silencing me. People who, based on their willingness to participate in this type of group, should be listening and validating what I am saying pushed me aside.
Today, on International Transgender Day of Visibility, I am shouting from the rooftops and will be silenced no more. Today is our day. We will be seen. We will be heard.
The statistics for my marginalized community are absolutely staggering. According to The Trevor Project, 27% of transgender students report feeling unsafe going to school and 31% report being victims of sexual violence in the past 12 months alone. I invite you to visit the site and read for yourself.
This does not take away from the horrific atrocities that have been intentionally, disgustingly, and repeatedly inflicted on the African American community. However, why are we fixated on who is higher or lower on the ladder? To be clear, I am not suggesting that the trans community is worse off than black America. What I am simply saying is that I am here and I want room. I’m not asking for all of the room or most of the room. I just want a little room.
The facilitator of the diversity group started our session with the phrase “the weight of the words.” She was of course speaking about bias and prejudice. But that simple phrase taught me another lesson too. If asking gently over and over to share my voice doesn’t work (and it didn’t), I will have to step in and make my voice heard. The world will feel the weight of my words. Of our words. Because I AM HERE. My child is important too. And so is every single person in her marginalized cohort. Shout it with me friends. We are here! And there is nothing you can do to stop us from being heard. All are welcome.