I am so goddamn exasperated with the Michigan Daily.  I am exasperated with the fact that their lack of coverage of Transgender Day of Remembrance — and the community reaction to it — has forced some truly ugly hate speech out of the woodwork.  I am exasperated that in previous years the Daily has covered events in the transgender community.  And I am sick of being blamed for my own community’s oppression.

This year, in response to their lack of coverage, the Michigan Daily ran a few letters to the editor.  Okay, it’s better than nothing, you might say.
Sure, it’s better than nothing, but it’s the only reaction the newspaper had.  Instead of giving room for a legitimized voice of the trans community, this basic action creates negative press.  Many people, whose only contact with the trans community is through events like this one where we are able to slip a word edgewise into the dominant narratives on this campus, think that we’re a bunch of whiners.  They think that the lack of coverage in other traditionally liberal media outlets like NPR means that it’s okay the Michigan Daily doesn’t pick up the story.  They accuse us of not sticking up for ourselves.

I’ve got a newsflash.  It’s hard to stick up for yourself when there are people who don’t think you’re legitimate, who deride you for being an “aberration,” and who force you into filling the angry minority activist role.  It’s a kind of tokenization that is destructive to any social equality movement.  It makes us into caricatures of ourselves when we most need to be seen as human.

Maybe there’s a bit of narcissism that makes me say that I’m still shocked that the Daily hasn’t asked any voices from the trans community to write a personal statement or something for their paper, since I’d like to volunteer myself to do such a job.  Of course, this is just a fantasy, but if they can run this tripe, they could possibly run a 300-word statement about what I’m thankful for.  (Not being a victim of a hate crime?  Having a family that is at least willing to accept me, contrary to what mainstream society would have them do?  Being a member of a supportive group of friends and colleagues?)

I’m also tired of people who say that our struggle for equality is not the same as the struggle for equality of blacks in America because there are so few of us.  I remember Andre telling me that, when revising the university’s non-discrimination clause, someone at the hearing said, “why bother?  There are so few of them.”  Part of why many people think there are so few transgender people is that we aren’t visible.  We are taught that we aren’t allowed to be visible.  We are discouraged from speaking out, and sometimes threatened when we do.  Sound familiar?  I thought so.

The importance of protecting the civil rights and livelihoods of a section of the population isn’t about how many people the protection affects, but lies with the fact that there is injustice.  Period.  There is injustice in this world, and I think Dr. King would agree that no matter who suffers that injustice, it is unacceptable.  As I remember the quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

I’d just like the chance to have some of the people who have reacted negatively to our attempts at finding justice walk a mile in my shoes and see how easy it is for them to speak up.  I’d like the chance to show them how difficult it is to operate on a daily basis.  I’d like the chance to open their eyes to the difficult reality that is being a minority in America.

Of course, those are just pipe dreams.  For the time being, I’m just thankful to live in a town where I’m not checking over my shoulder every minute, and surrounded by people who uplift me, intellectually and emotionally, even when there are so many others out there who would rather see me trampled down.

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