Guest Blogger

An Open Letter to Louisiana's LGBt Organization, Forum for Equality

Filed By Guest Blogger | July 19, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Wesley Ware has been fighting for the rights of LGBT individuals from Atlanta, GA and New Orleans, LA for over ten years. He now works as an advocate for incarcerated youth in Louisiana, including LGBT youth, at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana; his comments here are his personal beliefs and do not represent any organization.

wesley.jpgDear Forum for Equality,

I was greatly saddened today to read an op-ed in the Baton Rouge paper, The Advocate, called "Not Enough, But a Start."

The article referenced a proposed resolution that would "promote tolerance in the social and economic life of Louisiana's capital city."

You say "not enough" because Baton Rouge "has much more to do to promote itself as a welcoming community than a nonbinding resolution of good intentions."

I say "not enough" because the resolution purposefully omits transgender people (and many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and even heterosexual gender non-conforming individuals) by not including gender identity or expression.

I say "not enough" because I know that advocates were fighting to include gender identity in the resolution and you turned your back.

I say "not enough" because I know that in New York City, it was 16 years before the LGB community came back for those they deliberately left behind and that many other states and cities never came back for their transgender brothers and sisters at all.

I say "not enough" because I know that city ordinances and resolutions pass all of the time that include gender identity and expression- and that in fact, there are now more city ordinances and resolutions that do include protections for transgender people than don't.

I say "not enough" because I know it was a transgender woman who threw the first brick that sparked the Stonewall Riots and kicked off the gay rights movement in 1969.

I say "not enough" because we know the names of over 160 transgender people who were murdered last year alone and that we've had over 15 murdered since.

And although a non-binding city resolution really won't affect change in the everyday lives of lesbian and gay individuals in Baton Rouge, I say "not enough" because I can't help but to think that while you say you are fighting for the end to employment and housing discrimination, I know that it's transgender people (and in particular, transgender people of color), who are standing in welfare lines and filling our prison cells because they can't get a job or find a place to sleep at night.

So Forum for Equality, please let the rest of Louisiana know when you have decided that it's worth it to fight for everyone.

Then, and only then, will your "statewide civil rights organization" speak for me.

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Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | July 19, 2010 11:36 PM

Not enough, Indeed! You are correct there is no excuse for leaving off the "T"!

But I do have a question, were there transgender advocates in Baton Rouge fighting inclusion of "gender identity/expression"?

Ironically it was in New Orleans nine months after Katrina that I attended my first DNC meeting and openly engaged them for transgender inclusion which, with the help from many lesbian, gay and straight members and officers they did add "gender identity" in their charter and by laws last year.

On that same trip I engaged local LGBT and progressive activists to meet and we talk about equality legislation in Louisiana. Frankly I was disappointed because no one from the trans community showed up.

Cristan Williams | November 16, 2010 4:04 PM

Yes, trans folk started the first queer uprising in 1958 at Coopers Donuts.

Trans people of color are responsible for the first queer sit-in in 1965 at the Dewey's Lunch Counter in Philadelphia.

Trans people are responsible for sparking the fight that directly lead to the freedoms GLBT people enjoy in San Francisco in 1966 with the Compton's Cafeteria Riot.

Trans folk were there organizing the national gay rights movement in 1968 at the national conference of homophile organizations.

And yes, those pesky trannies started the Stonewall Riot to the horror of the straight acting gay population of the Mattachine Society.