On occasion The National Center for Transgender Equality is mentioned in the media. In a recent editorial in the Durant Daily Democrat, a newspaper serving Durant, Oklahoma, Harold Harmon seems to suggest that NCTE is a government entity funded by your precious tax dollars with the power to change federal policy.
As an intern at NCTE, I could not help but laugh when I read this article. While we certainly work diligently to leverage what power we do have to influence federal policy, we by no means have the power to unilaterally change policy (although sometimes I daydream about what the world would look like if that were the case). And, we most definitely are not funded by your tax dollars, but rather largely by your generous donations.
This editorial’s rhetoric is also interesting in a different respect. Harmon sets up an us versus them dichotomy, a refrain we are all too familiar with. I do not know what Harmon’s intentions are in suggesting that “our country” does not include transgender folks, but I do know how damaging and hurtful such a notion is. The reality is that our country is beautifully diverse and includes our transgender brothers and sisters, the challenge is to change our laws to reflect the realities and experiences of all Americans. This challenge is the reason for NCTE’s existence.
I chose to write about this article because I think it reflects a lot of common misunderstandings and frustrations, even if it does not constitute the loudest, most effective, or most painful voice among our opposition. I also think it is important that we, as a movement, know what types of rhetoric are being used against us so that we can be more effective in developing our strategies and arguments.
Here at NCTE we do our best to keep a pulse on the voices that speak out against transgender equality and keep these voices in mind while conducting our very important work.