My heart broke this morning when I heard about this hateful act that occurred right here in Denver.
Despite the nature of the hate crime that occurred yesterday, this post is not about politics. It is about love, safety, education and awareness.
Tomorrow of all days is Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the day we honor transgender folks who are savagely murdered each year as a result of their gender identity. Yesterday a trans woman right here in the Capital Hill district of Denver was the victim of a hate crime. Look what somebody did to her car.
It appears this act of hate was fueled by the election as “Trump” was written on the hood of her car. This is but one example as to why so many members of the LGBT community are terrified by the election results. Can you imagine how violating this must have felt to her? What else must she be worried about? Who is watching her?
I’m on the Board of Trustees at the Gender Identity Center of Colorado and have been volunteering at this special community resource center for the past decade.
Regardless of where we each stand politically, we all need to step up and care for our neighbors. How would you feel if this woman was your friend? Perhaps you’ve never had a trans friend, or at least you didn’t think you did. In a recent Minnesota study, 2.5% of high school students reported being transgender, gender-queer or gender non-conforming. That is about the same percentage as there are for Jewish people living in America. If you know a Jewish person, odds are you also probably know somebody who is gender non-conforming but may not feel safe to come out.
FIVE WAYS YOU CAN BE AN ALLY!
- HELP RAISE AWARENESS: Tell at least one person in your circle of influence about this local hate crime as a way to raise awareness. “Hey — Did you hear the horrible news about the hate crime in Cap Hill?” If you have children, employees, or students; use this as an opportunity to educate. Diversity is not to be feared, but rather it is the backbone of our great country. Forward this link to your friends, family and co-workers. It’s not as cute as a cat video, but it just might save somebody’s life!
- EDUCATE: Transgender folks identify differently than the gender they were assigned at birth. That’s all. We use the term gender non-conforming because gender identity and gender expression are on a spectrum. To keep it simple however, you can simply educate by saying that most trans people are either Male to Female (MtF) or Female to Male (FtM). Make it simple and age appropriate. You can explain to young children that a Male to Female for instance, has a boy body with a girl heart.
- IDENTITY vs. ORIENTATION. As an ally, explain that gender identity is who we are, while sexual orientation is who we are attracted to.
- USE PROPER PRONOUNS. Use the person’s preferred pronouns. A simple act of respect is to use the pronouns that the person identifies with. In other words, most MtF’s want to be referred to as she or her. If you are not sure, just don’t use any pronoun. Sentences don’t need to start or end with sir or ma’am. These are simple acts of kindness that cost nothing but can make the day of a gender variant person.
- DONATE. The Gender Identity Center of Colorado (GIC) is needed more today than ever before. This is a 501c3 non-profit organization that needs funding to support the community with free counseling and suicide prevention services. It is estimated that 40% of trans people have attempted suicide. If you want to help, please contact me or Karen Scarpella, the Executive Director of the GIC.
Make America love again!
(c) Credit photos CBS.