This is the first year that I’m out as a proud, gay, trans woman. Pride month was always a thing I celebrated myself but never really felt like I could belong as people who are perceived as heteronormative sort of don’t fit the bill. I could have gone as an ally but that would’ve just been one other costume I would be wearing and to be honest it would just hurt a bit more. I’m out now though, and my confidence is highest it’s ever been. One thing that I keep running into though as I integrate myself into my community is even on the Island of Misfits that society deems us, it’s still really cliquey.
It’s a weird thing to have a hierarchy in a group that fights for equality. There are a lot of cities for instance (*cough*Austin*cough*) that have an okay history with the “LGB” part of it but some of the worst transphobia I’ve heard about from other girls came from them. This also seems to work it’s way into the community in general in the saddest possible ways. In Philadelphia for instance, Sharron Cooks, the first transgender person to ever chair a city commission, was recently forced to resign for the worst reasons. The short story is she was targeted by other members of the community and sent death threats and racial slurs. She defended herself and she was forced to resign. The most terrible things came out of the mouths of gay men and cis women and everyone under the sun, and she had to resign. That shows that even in a place that has seen great progress in overall view of LGBT rights, trans rights in particular, is still guilty of pushing people out. This all by the way on the back of 11 trans people of color (as of this writing) being murdered this year so far as it’s only just now the beginning of June.
What does this say about the Philadelphia LGBT community then? As someone who just started being active in it, it’s a bit intimidating. We’re all supposed to be fighting for the same rights but also there’s the overwhelming need of a lobster bucket mentality among each group. The hierarchy that I’ve noticed is pretty damned patriarchal for a group that’s supposed to be fighting against it. From just my own observations, it goes “gay cis male”, “gay cis female”,”bi cis-anyone”, “trans white”, “trans color”. When we get into even the trans community we have even more hierarchy, “post op”,”pre-op”,”no-op”, “not seeking medical transition”, “gender non-binary”. So what the hell does this all mean in the end? It was trans women of color who led the charge at Stonewall, and yet they’re the ones that suffer the most. I’ve been fortunate so far in the people that I have been friends with in all of this, but there’s a lot of shit going around and it really smells terrible, like, “7-layer burrito and santorum” terrible.
Pride is supposed to be a month where we can stop the bickering, have fun, and just let the world know that we exist and deserve to continue to exist. It’s also important to take this time to reflect on how we’re doing this. You can’t be inclusive for only a month, it doesn’t work that way. My general rule has always been “don’t be a dick”, there’s no exception for people who are themselves marginalized to marginalize others. Pride is about love, let’s actually start showing it.