Each of us has our own stories. They’re complicated, and sometimes hard to share. But sharing our stories is a powerful way to help others understand who we are and influence public policy. This kind of education has long been missing in the movement for transgender equality. And that’s why NCTE is encouraging trans people to participate in “I AM: Trans People Speak,” a multi-media campaign seeking to educate LGB people and the public about trans people, their family, and allies.
The initiative, started by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), is gaining national momentum with Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) now on board as a campaign sponsor. GLAAD has helped to bring in star power with new supporters like Kit Yan, Laverne Cox, and Isis King.
Some NCTE folks sat down to tell their own stories. Marisa Richmond, NCTE Board Secretary and President of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, talks about how the murder of her close friend, Christian Page, inspired her to do political work:
[Christian] was found in her apartment. She had been strangled, stabbed thirty-five times, and then set on fire. To this day, nobody has ever been arrested or charged with that crime. It was the first time that I personally knew someone who had been a victim of such a horrific hate crime. […] I went to her grave site and I made a promise that I was gonna do whatever I could. I had no idea what that meant, but I made that commitment and I have never wavered from it since.
Donna Cartwright, a founding NCTE Board Member, shares the support she got from her brother during her transition and what it meant to her: “I really believe that lifting away the stigma, the shame, and the isolation of closetedness has done a great deal for me in allowing me to live really as a whole person.”
NCTE Policy Counsel Harper Jean Tobin talks about advocating for federal policy change as an out trans person:
“It’s really great to just be able to talk with [government officials] about what it means to be transgender, [and explain] some of the challenges that transgender people face. And it’s really great to see things kind of shift in where people start to understand how it really impacts people when a medical provider or a government official doesn’t respect somebody’s gender identity.”
As Harper Jean points out, telling stories about our experiences with medical providers, police officers, or with employers is what moves legislators to support our issues. Most decision-makers want to do the right thing, but need a place to learn more. Add yourself to the conversation about policies that change our lives by submitting your own video online.