Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

GLAAD I Am: Educating the Public About The Trans Community

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | April 09, 2012 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: GLAAD, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, MTPC, transgender

Bil heralded last month the launch of the trans educational video project being co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Campaign (MTPC) and GLAAD. You can see their roll out video featuring Laverne Cox, Kit Yan, Noah Lewis and Isis King.

I'm glad to see that this isn't a feature production of GLAAD alone, much as I think the organization does important and needed work. Rather, the project uses the substantive expertise of MTPC, a trans organization that has the most political savvy of any trans organization in the country, which originally started the video project last year, and combines with it the media savvy of GLAAD, which although it's wonderful in a number of ways, doesn't always show the highest understanding of trans politics.

I don't think it's an overstatement to say that this is one of the most important projects to impact trans civil rights in the country. Trans people can submit their own stories, and I urge you to do it.

When I discussed the MTPC project last year, I noted that there had been a vigorous discussion on Bilerico about the need to fund an educational project about trans peoples' ordinary lives for the general public in order to pass the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act

I particularly liked this line from the MTPC project website: "There is no one trans narrative. Each of these individuals has their own unique story to tell, and they can no longer be silenced."

At that time, the project was only taking stories from people in Massachusetts, because MTPC was focused on passing a statewide equality bill, which had been vociferously opposed by hate groups that painted trans people as pedophiles and dubbed the law "The Bathroom Bill." Last November, Massachusetts became the 16th state to have statewide legislative protection for transgender people.

MTPC was successful for many reasons, despite the vociferous opposition, partly because of smart decisions like their educational campaign. If we want to be successful on a national level, it would be a good idea to look at how they did it on the state level.

When I wrote about the MTPC educational video project last year, I plaintively asked:

So what's going to happen with all the calls for an educational campaign to educate people about transgender lives? Are they simply lip service from a community too focused on marriage equality to look up and notice that it's an LGB(fake)t out there?

Or will someone please give these people some money?

Well, someone has given them money, apparently a bunch, and that someone is GLAAD. (Double A GLAAD -- the national media org -- as opposed to "single A" GLAD -- the New England legal rights org, which also gave them money to start the smaller project last year.) The project has a fancy new website, and you can submit your own story here.

Here's the submission directions:

Share your story as a transgender person, family member, or ally and together, we can make our own media and continue to make a positive change in the representation of transgender youth and adults.

Instead of focusing on medical transition and private medical information, we invite you to share your stories about your identity and experience. How it has been for you accessing housing? Accessing education? How it is with your family? How does your race/ethnicity intersect with your trans identity? What activities and hobbies are you interested in? What communities are you part of? What has been the most difficult part of your trans experience? What has been the best part? What do you want the world to know about your story?

This project is centered on the full individual because trans people are more than their gender. This is a space to empower yourself and your communities by sharing your own lived experience.

There are also prompt questions if you're not sure what you want to talk about.

I was asked to submit an "It Gets Better" video, but declined, partly because I'm camera shy, and more significantly because I'm not entirely sure the premise of that project applies to trans people in the same cultural way that it applies to the gay community. But the I AM: Trans People Speak project is something I can wholeheartedly support. We must get trans voices and lives out to the general public or we will continue to have campaigns demonizing us as weird Buffalo Bills whenever civil rights laws are proposed.

I am going to do a video. I hope you will too, and that you will alert your friends to the project. Allies welcome. You should donate to the project here.

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