Published November 20th, 2019 at 9:45 AM
Brooklyn Lindsey, 32… Ja’Leyah Jamar, 30… Brianna “BB” Hill, 30…
These are the names of transgender individuals who have been murdered in Kansas City over just the last five months. Their lives will be among those remembered in Kansas City today on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reports 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been “fatally shot or killed by other violent means” nationwide so far this year. GLAAD (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) notes that the average life expectancy for a transwoman of color is 35 years of age.
To mark the day, Flatland asked four people who work with or are transgender what they think are the biggest misconceptions about transgender individuals. Here are their responses:
There are hundreds of misconceptions and myths around transgender individuals, but for me, the biggest one is that being transgender is the primary aspect of who I am. Every human is the combination of multiple facets which combine to create the brilliance of the individual person and those of us who happen to be transgender are no different. Just like you, we bring a myriad of our own lived experiences and truths about who we are to the table. Transgender individuals are parents, spouses, coworkers, and community members who have many of the same hopes and aspirations as you. Once you get to know someone who happens to be transgender you will often find they have more things in common with you than differences.
–Suzanne Wheeler, Executive Director, Mid-America LGBT Chamber
I think one big misconception is that being transgender has everything to do with body parts. About what surgery someone has or hasn’t had, and/or if they plan to! As a community we must dismantle the “system” that lives in all of us. The one that makes assumptions about who someone is or should be based on what they look like. Being transgender goes beyond what you see; it’s more of what one feels. Are they being affirmed as who they are, WHEN they are, and as they are? Especially by the ones around them who claim to love and care about them. Are we honoring our transgender and gender non-conforming brethren!? Are we truly speaking up for them in our communities? If we can’t look at someone and simply love them as they stand before us!?
– Cici Glasgow, Outreach & Education Manager, Kansas City Anti-Violence Project / KC Passages
The transgender community is diverse and complex with differing needs and priorities. Not having support from allies makes coping with life substantially more difficult for all transgender individuals. For me, allyship has been a journey. All along that path, I have had an unwavering belief that it is unequivocally the right thing to do. Wanting to help others doesn’t really matter if you ignore moments of inequality or mistreatment that happen in front of you every day because it is too inconvenient or uncomfortable to deviate from your routine to speak up or act. Allyship is the using the privilege I have to amplify the voices of others who feel their voices are not being heard. There are too many marginalized individuals in our community for me to hide, and not try to be a voice for meaningful inclusion. Empathy fuels connection, and with it comes responsibility, culpability and self-reflection.
–Caroline Huffman, Chief Executive Officer, Thrive Health Connection
Misconception: Transgender women (always) look manly. This misconception is fueled by both transgender representation in media and the fact that, generally, people only notice a stranger is transgender when they look manly. In media, transgender women are often portrayed by cisgender men who haven’t been on even a day of hormone replacement therapy, which can feminize the face and figure significantly. (Even my own friends have been totally surprised at how different I look since starting hormone replacement therapy. Apparently, they’d expected me to look the same, just wearing different clothes!) This is often coupled with overdone makeup that gives them an appearance more akin to drag queens than to most transgender women. In public, people only notice transgender women who stand out as transgender. They come to think that they’re very good at spotting transgender women, even if they only spot the transgender women who stand out as such.
–Taylor Hockersmith, Web Developer / IT Administrator, KCPT
International Transgender Day of Remembrance:
How to be an ally:
What you need to know about pronouns:
4 p.m. – University Playhouse at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 800 E. 51st St.
6 – 9 p.m. – Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St.