Friday, March 31, 2017

Are You Out?

You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you.
Harvey Milk

Today is Transgender Day of Visibility.

On days like today’s I also have mixed feelings, one part of me knows that being out changes peoples’ minds. I was tabling for CT TransAdvocay Coalition at the Women’s March on Washington event in New London and the next day I got this email,
"I attended the Walk event yesterday at Conn College, and while there, I had the pleasure of talking with one of your representatives. Transgender issues are something about which I know very little, and I have never knowingly met someone who identifies as transgender. (That's not to say I have never met someone, just that I was not aware.)

To spend a few minutes speaking with your representative had a profound impact on me. I can't even explain why, except to say that being able to speak to someone has taken the issue out of the abstract for me.

I intend to educate myself more about transgender issues, and I hope to have an opportunity to stand as an ally for transgender people. Thank you for attending the event."
We do make a difference.

But then there is this from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey,

  • One in ten (10%) reported that an immediate family member had been violent towards them because they were transgender.
  • Fifteen percent (15%) ran away from home and/or were kicked out of the house because they were transgender.
  • More than three-quarters (77%) of respondents who were out or perceived as transgender in K–12 had one or more negative experiences, such as being verbally harassed, prohibited from dressing according to their gender identity, or physically or sexually assaulted.
  • Fifty-four percent (54%) of people who were out or perceived as transgender in K–12 were verbally harassed, and 24% were physically attacked.
  • “The day I came out as transgender at work, I was let go. Since transitioning, employment has been difficult, with a 95% reduction in earnings.”
  • “I quit after seven months of unbearable working conditions. I have been struggling to keep afloat financially. I’m afraid of going to apply for unemployment or SNAP benefits because I know that I will be discriminated against. I’m on the brink of being homeless and my own family hasn’t even reached out to help me.”

Coming out has risks you could lose your family and friends; you could end up homeless or jobless.

So I say if you are thinking about coming out ask yourself these questions… Is it safe? Is there danger of violence? Do I have a support network if things go badly?

Once you come out you can never go back, saying “I was only kidding” just doesn’t work and once you come your life will never be the same.

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