Sundays are generally family days for me. And as I prepared myself for PFLAG’s Youth Trans Visibility Event, I had the thought I wanted to stay home to be with my family. As soon as this thought entered my mind, I quickly reminded myself what this event was about: that I get the opportunity to celebrate not only our local transgender community but also the transgender community worldwide…transgender persons who do not have family support because of who they are as people. I can represent the love and acceptance they may not receive at home. Or maybe they do have family support but not the support of their community. On this day I had the privilege to celebrate and honor their lives and stories.
The PFLAG board members and volunteers all worked hard to provide an event that could be tailored to transgender youth, so that it could truly be a day of celebration. We decorated the room in the transgender flag colors of pink, blue and white. We set up game tables, a cookie decorating table, tables with pink and blue table cloths for participants to sit and a food booth serving nachos. We even had a scavenger hunt where groups of youth received a great big loot of toys for their “hunting efforts”.
Amidst the games, cookies, cupcakes and nachos were transgender youth of varying ages celebrating who they are with their friends and family there in support. People were seen hugging and catching up. Moms who shared a common connection of having a trans child were seen talking with pride about their child. There was a lot of fun, laughter and most importantly love in the room.
In the middle of all the fun, we had two women, Jocelyn and Andi who spoke to us about their journey of transition. They both spoke with passion and courage about how to love and accept ourselves. Jocelyn and Andi shared that while they did not have a traumatic coming out or transition experience, they know many transgender people do. They shared the all too unfortunate events that many transgender people experience and that we as a community and society must do more.
After more games and socializing, we were treated with an exceptionally, beautiful musical number by Jocelyn. THIS GIRL CAN SING! If you have not had the privilege of hearing her, you are missing out! I was lucky enough to hear her sing the night before at the Queer Arts showcase hosted by Borderland Rainbow Center. She commands a stage and she left many in the room that day in tears. She sang “Hero” by Mariah Carey. These words could not be more fitting for the transgender community and the strength and resilience they must have in a society that still struggles to understand them. The lyrics encourage us to look inside us and we will find that a hero lies in us all. This is also a message for the TransAllies in the world. That it takes strength and courage to stand with our transgender friends and fight for their equal treatment. Jocelyn sang lyrics that will stay with all of us in that room for years to come.
This was truly an event that celebrated the dynamic transgender community that exists in El Paso. It was interesting to think that we were joined in celebration with other transgender communities around the country and world to say we see you. We love you. And that you matter in this world. Transgender people are just like any human deserving of love, respect and equality.
Although this was a day of celebration, those transgender persons who have lost their lives due to violent acts, were not lost on us. After experiencing such a fun day, it was hard to come across a news article the very next day of a black transwoman who was fatally wounded by a gun violence (1). The article cited the Human Rights Publication of 2018 reporting transwomen faced record levels of violence in 2017 and 2018. That the transgender people targeted the most are those who identify as female, are women of color and under the age of 35 (1).
No human should ever be targeted for their identity. Ever. Not for religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, culture, immigration status or disabilities. No transgender person should be made to feel less than anything than their wonderful, beautiful self. We as a society must recognize the unique talents, diversity and strength they offer this world. And if we can continue to have events that support and celebrate our transgender friends, we can continue to make them visible to the world and be seen for who they are. I hope that through continued awareness and events like the one PFLAG hosted, we will be able bring greater acceptance and love to the transgender community.
1. Fitzsimons, T. (2019, April 1). 'She did not deserve that': Trans woman fatally shot in Maryland. Retrieved April 3, 2019, from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/she-did-not-deserve-trans-woman-fatally-shot-maryland-n989751