Wednesday, June 3, 2015

We Stand on the Shoulders of Those that Came Before US

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

With the recent publicity of the revealing of Caitlyn Jenner, I wanted to take a second to remind our trans society about one of the countless people that have paved the way for the discussions on transgender issues we are having today. I personally feel, any transgender person on this planet, that has dared to leave their home as their true self is a hero and has contributed to making life easier for many of us today and those yet to come.

I've heard some nitpicking on social media from with in the community against Jenner's surgeries, or
whether her pictures are airbrushed. If her pictures are airbrushed or not, I have no proof and I'm sure many trolling on social media has any as well. This is petty and does little to further our cause in the eyes of the world. If they are, I doubt she is the only person ever to be on the cover of Vanity Fair who has been airbrushed. As far as surgeries, I find it amusing so many in our community would complain of her having surgeries, when surgeries are such a big part of transition to begin with, meaning srs, top surgery, trachea shave, etc. etc. I personally made the decision to be as natural as possible, letting E do all the work and happy with my 40d-32-44 figure and was blessed by my mother so that facial reconstruction is not mandatory. That is not the case for everyone, and I dare allow myself to stand in judgment.

Regardless, this moment in time is important for our community. It further forces the discussion of gender dysphoria on the dinner tables of America. It also marks a moment to reflect on how we got to this point. The Leelah Alcorn's of the world that demanded society fix itself. The London Chanel's of the world, that are bringing to light the dangers trans women of color face in a hip-hop world.

The unnamed and unheard countless trans people that rise every morning to go to work or school, in a hostile environment. Every time one of us stand before that judge and ask for our name and gender identification to be changed, we are pushing society to fix itself. We aren't the first ones to do so, we will not be the last. We are only all soldiers standing on the shoulders of legends like, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Loren CameronRenee Richards, Chaz Bono, and the countless warrior and heroine advocates we have in our community.

One of those heroines in my local area of Charleston South Carolina, was the subject of a previous post here; Dear Trans Family...Will You Still Love Me When I'm No Longer Young and Beautiful? She is the founder of a local support group that started with less than a dozen trans identified people in 2000 to nearly 125 today. Our support group here today is now connected with other regional support groups throughout the state of South Carolina through The Palmetto Transgender Association, an organization connecting the state's trans community to support systems, legal services, health care and the community. All those systems has lead to a spin off of SC equality, SC Equality Trans Action, a newer political organization dedicated to the needs and rights of SC trans society.

The Charleston support group is now the largest in the state. One can only debate the impact of not having Olivia, stand up, be
visible and having the courage to form the Charleston support group, would have had on our community today. . From what I've witnessed since being a member back in 2003 is, I doubt it would be as progressive without that initial spark.

Now, elderly with health issues and falling on hard times. Times, many of us know all to well, but it was time to give back. I'm honored that because of the group she created, which created the spark in me to blog about our community, that I through TMP, was able to help give back to this leader in our local community. I know at may age and years as a trans woman, have the wisdom to know that my life to today is just that much less difficult due in part to the actions of this woman.

Last month, through a TMP crowd funding campaign, we raised 650 dollars for Olivia. I presented her with the money the community donated on her behalf. By many who have never met her. One person as far away as England. We both agreed it best to share back with the community, pictures of their actions. I wanted to give an update to all those that donated, shared the gofundme page on social network and our local community.

As of June, Olivia is now secure with friends in Beaufort SC. She has been interviewed by a state social worker and is awaiting placement in housing for the elderly and disabled. She was beaming the day I showed up to her door with the gift from our community. She expressed that she never thought anyone would care. It touched me that she, as so many of us, give of our time to raise pride to the flag of transgender issues, that at times like this someone with in our community may think no one cared. We must change this for the future. If trans society does not have trans society willing to stand side by our side with them in life and offer support, not only in words or social gatherings, but real life meaningful support, then we have no society worth fighting for.

We owe so much to those that have stood on the streets having bricks thrown at them for being who they are, yet dared to stand and walk in the light proclaiming their identity. We owe it to Saint Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera that saw so much hope for our community in the future. We owe it to the countless advocates, warriors, celebrities, trans brothers and sisters fighting to get to work and school. We owe it to Leelah Alcorn, London Chanel and yes, we owe it to Caitlyn Jenner. We owe her a trans society, standing united ready to fight with her.

If you ask why do I owe it, is it because she's trans? You owe it because you stand in the shadow of someone trans who did it for you!

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