Transgender Awareness Week


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Happy Trans Awareness Week! This is a time to raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people and the issues these groups face.

It’s a big week in the community, and it ends on Friday with Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), in observance of those who’ve lost their lives to violence and hatred against them. To learn more about it, visit the TDOR website.

It’s also an important week for me personally as I launch my book tomorrow! Who Am I If You’re Not You? is centered around a same-sex couple facing a gender transition, and their journey to weather the change and all it entails. I’ll be holding a launch party and am excited to get this book officially out into the public!

Whether you’re a member of the trans community or an ally, please do something this week to acknowledge those who are transgender and gender non-conforming. Check out GLSEN’s website, or GLAAD also has a list of ways to support and mark the occasion.

Happy Trans Awareness Week!

“I’m Pregnant … and I’m a Stud”

That headline’s not mine but it sure caught my attention, so I stole borrowed it. It belongs to FreedomTwoLove, a blog written by my friend, Rena Ingram, who founded that organization.

I try to bring fresh perspectives to this blog of mine that’s focused on learning about the LGBTQ+ community. Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Rena, an LGBT activist, blogger, motivational speaker, and all around great person to know! Read on to learn more about her and her wonderful organization that’s going to great lengths to reinforce the message of #NOH8.

FreedomTwoLove, A Light for All

FreedomTwoLove originated in February 2014 when it held its first event on the campus of Fort Valley State University under the #NOH8 umbrella as it was called, “#NOH8: Addressing the Misconceptions of the LGBTQ Community.” As the founder and current CEO, at the time I was a senior at the illustrious historically black college and university (HBCU) and was a little apprehensive about holding the event because I had never seen anything of the sort provided on the campus – a mark that specifically supported the LGBTQ+ community. Although I knew I had built the leverage to hold such an event by holding various leadership roles throughout my matriculation at the university, building strong relationships with others on the campus, and holding the title as Student Government Association’s Vice President at that time, it was still nerve wrecking to attempt something that had never been done. I began to develop the mindset that if I didn’t do it, no one else would, and it was just as important then as it is now that I stood as an advocate and created a safe space for others within my community – so I did, and it became a moment that would change my life forever.

In 2015, I returned to the university as an alumnus and held yet another Noh8.png#NOH8 event which I rightfully deemed, “Part II.” The outpouring of support I received at that event pushed me to press play on my ideas and develop my own brand that branched away from the shadows of the #NOH8 movement – a decision that inspired the creation of what is now called, FreedomTwoLove. Freedom is defined as the power to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, love is unconditionally self-explanatory, and “two” is used as a form of unique wordplay to be inclusive of both gay and lesbian love. This brand is different from every other LGBTQ-ally campaign because it strives to bridge the gap that currently alienates those of the LGBTQ community from their heterosexual peers by creating a safe and supportive space for dialogue through events and monthly blog postings for those of the community and others to generate open conversations about the negative biases and stereotypes that are present and evident in today’s society. Its overall mission is to serve as an aid in the fight against the injustices targeted on the LGBTQ+ community and encourage those within the community to build resilient confidence within themselves while simultaneously raising awareness of what’s going on within the community.

FreedomTwoLove is most popularly known for its blogs that are released on the 2nd of every month, such as, “I’m Pregnant … and I’m a Stud,” “The Fragility of Black Masculinity”, and “#ReclaimingMyTime: Don’t Let Your Story End.” By visiting www.freedomtwolove.com, you can not only keep up with the monthly blogs, but can also stay alert to what’s happening in the LGBTQ+ community with weekly news postings. In addition to being a Group Noh8blogger for the brand, I am also a motivational speaker and certainly a LGBTQ+ advocate as I make my way through various communities in effort of helping my community receive better treatment in all facets of life. One moment in particular that I’m proud of consisted of helping train an academy class of police officers for the Atlanta Police Department with a segment called, “Transgender Interaction Scenarios” along with transgender women in the community to ensure that the new police officers will be respectful in body searches, pronoun usage, etc. once they got out into the field.

Ultimately, I understand that this is one of my life’s missions and I also know that the work has just begun. As long as I have air in my body, I’ll be the voice for others that can’t, won’t, or simply don’t know how; and when it’s all said and done, I can only hope that FreedomTwoLove was a light for all.

 

How a School Bus Driver Made a Wrong Turn with Trans Teens

Let’s face it: high school can be tough. I mean, pull-out-your-hair, cry-yourself-to-sleep, not-sure-survival-is-possible tough. If the pressures of growing up, getting enough sleep, worrying about your grades and your future aren’t bad enough, there’s the acne/braces/glasses/not-being-popular/forever-feeling-awkward part.

Then there’s the trans part. Then there’s part where the bus driver kicks you off the public school bus because you’re trans.

Wait, what?

Yep, you read that right.

In Glen Falls, NY, a public school bus driver kicked two male-identifying trans students off the bus after they sat with other males. The driver told them they had to sit with the girls, because that was their gender at birth. They politely refused, at which point the driver refused to give them a ride (despite other students standing up for the boys).

I don’t know these boys but I’m outraged on their behalf. And if I’d been their parent — well, let’s just not go there. Why? Why? WHY? They were doing nothing wrong. They weren’t being rowdy, insolent, disrepectful, or disruptive.

They simply wanted to sit with their male peers. And for that, they were forced off a school bus.

I hope administrators within the Glen Falls school system look long and hard at how they’re educating employees about acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion. Clearly it’s needed.

Our children – ALL children – need to know they’re safe. Adults are supposed to provide that safety. We’re supposed to understand when others don’t, and to be nurturing, welcoming, accepting, and loving. We’re expected to be role models. More precisely, we should be counted on to act like grownups.

I’m so glad the others on the bus rallied around these kids. What a lesson we can learn from them!

By the way, there are resources out there dedicated to transforming the educational environment. Cheers for TSER, which is Trans Student Educational Resources, which seeks to create a more trans-friendly education system. Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, is another important organization that works to make safe school environments for all students.

I hope Glen Falls school administrators happen across this blog, and I hope they’ll consider working closely with TSER and GLSEN and other similar organizations that can help them better understand how to accept all students.

Which leaves me with a question: Who’s schoolin’ who?