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The strength of working at community intersections

Commentary: Trans Progressive

Those who’ve seen the film Milk may remember the scenes in the film showing Harvey Milk working with labor leaders to further civil rights for his primary identity community. And when he ran for San Francisco supervisor multiple times, and eventually won his district’s seat, he achieved office, in part, by not only working on gay and lesbian community issues, but also by taking on the issues of minority and majority populations in his district.

And, Milk was an early supporter of the United Farm Workers grape boycott. And, while on one hand it was seen by Milk and his supporters as just the right thing to do, this work at the intersection of employment and labor issues saw dividends for LGBT community members. Quoting the March, San Diego LGBT Weekly article Remembering César Chávez by Ian Stokell and Steve Lee:

“[César] Chávez was the first major civil rights leader to support gay and lesbian issues visibly and explicitly. He spoke out on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the 1970s. And in 1987, he was an important leader of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.”

Our LGBT community has a history of working at the intersections of communities – finding commonalities where our issues overlap the issues of others and then finding a way of working together to achieve goals that benefit all of us.

Trans women especially have a history of working at intra- and extra-community intersections. At the Stonewall Riots, Stonewall Uprising and Gay Liberation Movement, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were there working on lesbian and gay rights. In the ’70s feminist movement, Beth Elliot and Sandy Stone were there working on feminist issues in feminist spaces. That these folk were treated poorly by the movements to which they were working at the intersections didn’t stop later trans people from still choosing to work at community intersections.

Many don’t know that the marriage equality court case that brought Californians the freedom to marry prior to Prop. 8 being passed into law was argued by the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Shannon Minter – a trans man. Many in San Diego don’t know that one of the two primary organizers of San Diego’s 20,000 person march against Prop. 8’s passage was Kelly Moyer – a trans woman.

And at the Netroots Nation Conference in June of this year, the panel of Feministing’s Jos Truitt, Transgriot’s Monica Roberts, Bilerico’s Jillian Weiss, and I spoke of working at community intersections. Jos, for example, has worked as a trainer and organizer for reproductive justice. Jillian worked organizing a letter-writing campaign for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the 2009/2010 congressional session. Monica is working on the developing bonds between black and LGBT communities. I worked for repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – an LGBT issue that didn’t impact open service for trans people.

What’s happening now is that as trans people are working at intra- and extra-LGBT community intersections, others who work with these trans people are becoming interested in trans community issues as a result. Since the trans subcommunity of the LGBT community is such a community, we need allies to accomplish civil rights goals – working at community intersections means we’re doing the bridge-building to develop those allies.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=25478

Posted by on Jun 14, 2012. Filed under Trans Progressive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “The strength of working at community intersections”

  1. PainfulReality

    It sounds like to me that your are simply following the British NHS model in an effort to, “justify the psychiatrist led approach and create a market of mainstream transvestites rebranded as transgender”


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