Putting the edge of the acronym in the heart of pride

Darcy’s address at the FM Pride Interfaith Service on Trans Erasure at Pride

During our nation’s celebration of LGBTQ+ pride, it is difficult for those under the transgender umbrella to feel recognized. Nestled on the edge of the acronym, transgender and queer plus folks rarely even see their flags nor have their voices included prominently in the festivities. This erasure is all too common, with the concerns and civil rights of transgender and queer Americans relegated to the backseat of the equality bandwagon. Transgender and queer Americans face staggering rates of homelessness, poverty, employment discrimination, violence, and HIV, more so than gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans. It was not until marriage equality was achieved that the LGBTQ+ community at-large turned its attention to the accessibility of transition-related healthcare, employment and housing stability, and positive visibility. Even in this new frontier, the conversation is largely dominated by the voices of white, gay cis- men and women and straight allies with the occasional token voices in the mix.

Even still, there is much that the transgender and queer community can celebrate during Pride. We can celebrate the victories we have achieved such as the removal of the armed forces’ ban on transgender service, the Federal transgender student directive, and small victories throughout the country such as the Massachusetts Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill and numerous Federal court victories. We can celebrate the increased visibility of our community which makes it easier for us to exist in a world which largely wishes we did not. This visibility is paying off with more Americans knowing and thinking positively about their transgender neighbors than two years ago. We can celebrate that we have risen above the rubble to fight for our right to live open and affirming lives. In the face of erasure, we have helped one another. From Transgender Lifeline, the nation’s only crisis lifeline for transgender and queer folk, to our own Tristate Transgender, the area’s only transgender and queer specific support organization, transgender people are showing their mettle and advocating and fighting for each other.

In our own community transgender and queer folk have seen increased visibility and movement.

Tristate Transgender has continued its mission to help the transgender community with social support, finding resources such as counselors and physicians, and advice for other needs which are especially difficult for transgender people (e.g. safe stores and preferred washrooms) both in person and on their website. Visit Tristate and support them with the purchase of a Taco-in-a-Bag at Pride in the Park. Darcy Corbitt, a graduate student at NDSU and transgender advocate, has brought transgender issues to the forefront with over 20 television, radio, and print media interviews and over a dozen public talks throughout the state. Visit Darcy at her table at Pride-in-the Park. Transgender activist, Faye Seidler, has continued her hard work with the weekly transgender mentor program at the Pride Center, and with numerous workshops and transgender cultural competency trainings throughout the community. The Red River Trans Clothing Exchange, started this year, helps local members of the transgender community with the opportunity to “shop” in a safe and affirming space. MSUM’s Raymond Rea brought the story of cultural, generational, and gender transitions poignantly to the stage earlier this year with the debut of his play The Sweet New. Even local institutions have contributed to the dialog by hosting talks by prominent transgender personalities— Aydian Dowling at NDSU, and Mya Taylor at MSUM, and The Forum has published numerous stories including a front page story where we talked about the need for bathroom equality.

Now a moment of truth— this election year could bring many setbacks in our fight, and we are certain to face transphobic legislation at unprecedented rates. We must stand strong and resolved as a community, resisting the urge to flee hatred. We must declare together that “enough is enough.” We must live boldly, openly, and affirming of our identities and the identities of our friends and neighbors. Arm in arm we will progress forward with courage and strength.

Darcy J. Corbitt is a local transgender advocate and institutional consultant. Contact her through her website at darcycorbitt.org.

Rebel Marie is one of Tristate Transgender’s community leaders. Contact her through Tristate’s website at tristatetrans.org or  rebelmarie701@gmail.com.

Reed Rahrich is an outspoken local transman fighting for social change through various creative outlets.  Contact him at rerahrich@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared in the Fargo-Moorhead Pride Guide. Reprinted here with permission.

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