Reflecting on DADT and LGBT youth during San Diego PrideTrans Progressive, Bottom Highlights Thursday, July 14th, 2011
Commentary: Trans Progressive
As lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride events in San Diego are on many of our minds, I can’t help but think about what I was thinking about last year and what I’m thinking about this year.
Last year I was one of the two San Diego Champions of Pride. In April of 2010, with five others, I had handcuffed myself to the White House fence over the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). With DADT on so many of our minds this time last year, well, I’m sure my selection had something to do with my participation in the direct action.
My secondary point on working toward DADT repeal involved how repeal of DADT wouldn’t result in trans people being able to serve openly. I was trying to send the message that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are part of the broad LGBT community, and that if an issue is an issue for even one subcommunity of the LGBT community, it’s my issue. I was attempting to pose the question to the community: If you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, would you sacrifice for your trans neighbors and siblings? And if you’re trans, would you sacrifice for your gay, lesbian or bisexual neighbors and siblings? It’s something worth knowing about yourself and those around you. It’s something worth knowing about the LGBT community we belong to.
As far as I know, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, OutServe, the Log Cabin Republicans and the Human Rights Campaign haven’t as yet pivoted toward working toward open military service for trans servicemembers. At this point it doesn’t appear that any of these organizations will. Open service for transgender servicemembers doesn’t appear to be an LGBT community issue priority.
At Pride events in recent years, our LGBT community has seemed to coalesce around passing federal hate crime legislation, repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act and passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but there are other LGBT community issues.
One of those other issues I’m thinking about during this San Diego Pride season is anti-LGBT school bullying. This is because July marks the beginning of the trial for Larry King’s admitted killer. For those who don’t remember Larry King, in February, 2008 he was a 15-year-old student at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif. Then 14-year-old student peer Brandon McInerney shot King at school. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times , entitled Trial To Begin In Slaying Of Gay Middle School Student Larry King:
“When he was just 14, Brandon McInerney walked into an Oxnard classroom, took his seat, pulled a .22-caliber handgun out of his backpack and shot the student sitting in front of him. Then he tossed the weapon to the floor and walked out.”
According to the Los Angeles Times article Witnesses Testify About Shooting Of Gay Student In Oxnard:
“Four students who testified were in the computer lab the morning McInerney shot King. While some details varied, they essentially told the same story.
“McInerney was sitting directly behind King, who had come to school that day with no embellishments. A girl sitting close to King asked him if he was changing his name because she noticed that he had written ‘Leticia’ at the top of his research paper. King responded, ‘Yeah,’ and Jesus C. and another boy started giggling.”
Larry King wore clothing items usually associated with women with his school uniform, such as high heel shoes. How the 14-year-old expressed gender had much to do with why he was frequently called the antigay f-word pejorative at his school.
It seems clear to me that even though Larry King is often described as a gay student, he just as easily could’ve been a young trans woman. The name Leticia could’ve been King reflecting a female gender identity that he was near the point of publicly acknowledging, we just don’t know. But that said, the students King went to school with probably didn’t know, or didn’t care, what the difference is between crossdressers, transsexuals and feminine gay males. To many of King’s student peers, and to many in broader society,we’re all just f**s.
What I do know is that Larry King’s life experience was a long way from the issues of repealing DADT, repeal of Prop 8 or the repeal of DOMA … the issues that we’ve been talking about for a few years as the legislative priorities of the LGBT community.
For me this year, San Diego Pride is going to be a time I think about our LGBT community youth and anti-LGBT bullying. Our next generations of LGBT youth deserve our energies to help create a more accepting and just world for them to live in.
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