My friend Katie Anne Holton was inspired by Liz’s Speech and wrote this in response.
Beautifully done, Liz. The great strength in our community is that while you are exceptional, you are not alone. Our community is filled with strong brothers, sisters and gender-queer siblings who refuse to be dismissed, marginalized or fetishized.
We’re blessed with powerful writers, speakers and activists. We’re strengthened by those who quietly live their lives, demanding that they not be defined by their anatomy, or their assigned gender, or even by the fact that they are trans.
Most importantly, we walk on the shoulders of giants. Those shoulders are often surprisingly broad, or surprisingly narrow, but always strong. I can be out, and loud, and proud without losing my children or my job. In our state, I can seek legal recourse when I face discrimination. I have those things because those pioneers refused to be silenced, despite often losing their families and careers.
Knowing they would face abuse and contempt from the law, they threw the first rocks at Stonewall. Some had the strength to forge dignity out of lives as sex workers. Some chain themselves to the Obama White House to remind us that even today, in our nation’s military and even in the custody of federal law enforcement, we are still treated as second class citizens.
Our community is stronger, because we fight for others’ dignity as well. We fight for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, even though there will still be no place in a post-DADT military for transgender patriots. We fight for marriage equality, even though many of us could marry legally, and many others have no desire to marry. We live the truth that Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us of so often, “Justice is indivisible.” “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Many of us choose to be out in our communities. We teach, hoping that our trans students, our queer students, all our students who feel alienated, can see that it does get better. We write solid computer code, manage employees humanely, and serve lattes with dignity, courtesy and humor to demonstrate that our gender identity does not define our worth as workers. Those of us who are so blessed as to have children, live the lesson that the most loving parent is the one who is true to herself, or himself, or zerself.
We live our trans truth in our other communities. We remind our LG & B communities that a transgender woman who loves women is no less a lesbian than the sister who has lived her whole life in the female role we know to be our own. We explain to the head of the PTA that yes, this beautiful child is our son, and his dad is a she. Some of us are a part of the kink community, where we demonstrate that a trans man or trans woman can give or take it with the best of them. Some of us are part of the Tantra/poly community. And one of us bared her all–her pre-op all–on stage, in front of 200 of her closest friends to show that “we walk among you.”
All of us live our truths, even though by doing so, we make of ourselves prime targets for hate crimes. Far too many of us pay the ultimate price, murdered simply for being who we are.
Finally, many of us choose to live our lives in our true gender with no reference to that gender that is not ours. There is strength here as well. Liz proclaimed that “My body is NOT public property. Trans bodies are NOT public property. OUR bodies are not public property!” Those who live solely in their true gender demonstrate that like our bodies, our identities are our own, not public property. Our identities are just that, OURS. We own them. Our identities don’t belong to our culture, and not to our nation and its laws, and not to our larger LGBT community, and not even to our own transgender community.
We sluts walk with some very powerful company.