Speaking out for Equality

Last month my husband and I took part in local history, advocating alongside others for a local law that would grant equal protection and rights to transgender individuals. The Transgender-Inclusive Non-Discrimination law was widely supported and passed by a vote of 8-1! Before the bill could be signed into law, a public hearing with the Mayor was held. I was asked to speak at the hearing and share my support of the bill and perspective as the parent of a transgender youth. Speakers were limited to 2 minutes. Those of you who know me know what a challenge that was for me! After all, I’ve got a lot to say on the topic…

I thought I’d share my speech on the blog.

Gender identity is often taken for granted. For most of us, our gender identity matches the body we were born in… and it can be very difficult for people to understand what it means to be transgender… or to understand an identification that is different from our own. I was one of those people, and if you asked me several years ago what it means to be transgender I would have provided an uneducated, and possibly insensitive, response.

But I’ve learned a lot over the past few years. I learned because I had to learn… because my child’s life depended on it. My 17 year old son is transgender. His struggle to understand, accept, and simply be who he is almost cost him his life.

As a mom, I could not be more proud of him. And I have no doubt that if you knew him, you would admire him, and adore him, and wish you had the privilege of raising such an incredible son.

It is through personal and professional relationships… through getting to know actual transgender people… that we can break down the myths, lies, fears and stereotypes that lead to discrimination.

I want to stress how important it is for all of us who believe in fairness to learn more about the challenges faced by transgender individuals — and to do something about it. We are talking about regular people who are trying to make a living, send their children to school and pay their bills — just like other Americans. And we are talking about children and young people who are trying to survive… to fit in and be accepted… to get through school without being beaten, bullied, or kicked out of their own homes.

Unfortunately, because they are transgender, they are often treated differently and denied the dignity and equality that every person deserves.

Laws such as this amended Fair Practices Act are needed to protect transgender individuals and prohibit discrimination. These are not special protections, but the same protections that other Americans enjoy. Thank you.

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