By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist–
My name is Deja Nicole Greenlaw and, in the spirit of Harvey Milk, I’m here to recruit you! I am asking you, no, I am imploring you, all of my transgender brothers and sisters, to come out of the closet and to show your friends, your relatives and your coworkers that you are transgender. Yes, come out! We are part of this world. We add value to society. There’s nothing wrong with us! We need to show the people whom we know that we are transgender and that we are a vibrant part of society. There’s nothing to fear from us.
Many transgender people live in the closet. Staying in the closet does no good for our cause. Staying in the closet does not pave the way for us in society and it keeps doors shut for the young and future transgenders. We need to open those doors and keep them open. We had older transgenders, back in the day; take the hits for us, which gave us an easier opportunity than they had. Because of the Stonewall Riots, the Compton Riots, all the transpeople who lobbied for state and federal rights, all the transpeople who made it easier to change the gender marker on your driver’s license, all the transpeople who were murdered for being transgender, all the transpeople who were refused medical help, all the transpeople who worked to change their religion’s views and all the transpeople who led the various transgender support groups, things are getting much better for us. We still have a ways to go, but we do have it much easier than our older brothers and sisters did. We now have a moral responsibility to keep the torch moving forward and to make the upcoming transgenders’ lives even easier than ours. Coming out makes a big difference in making our lives easier.
Just look at how much society has changed since Chaz Bono came out. Besides being Sonny and Cher’s already famous child who came out, he went one step further and did a stint on “Dancing with the Stars.” If people were unclear as to who transpeople were, all of a sudden they were educated with Chaz in the spotlight. He was in the news and on televisions everywhere. Yes, all of a sudden everyone in America knows who a transgender person is. No, make that, everyone in the world now knows who a transgender person is! Jenna Talackova, the Miss Universe Canada contestant, further heightened people’s awareness when it was found out that she is transgender. Yes! A beauty queen is transgender! Having Chaz and Jenna coming out has made a huge difference in educating the masses about transgenders. It’s great to have the worldwide visibility that these two pioneering souls gave us.
Even at the local level many of us transgenders are out at work and our coworkers have gotten used to us. Now our co-workers can say, “Yes, I know a transgender who works with me and they are good people. They’re not like those crazy people on Jerry Springer who cause fights and yell.” There might be a little hesitation from some at first, but as time passes, so do the hesitations. Yes, they become used to us and don’t even give us second thought. Yes, they come to the conclusion that we are people, the same as they are.
Outside of work, people see transgenders who are out in the local supermarkets, department stores, restaurants, churches, doctor’s offices and motor vehicle offices. It’s no big deal. We are just like everyone else. I’ve personally noticed that more people are warmer to us since Chaz and Jenna came out. You can see it in their eyes and smiles when they realize that they have just seen a transgender person. You know that they will go home and tell their families at dinner that today that they saw a transgender person at the store, the market, at the doctor’s, in church, or wherever they saw you. Yes, we are settling into society and the more of us who come out, the faster that we will settle. The more of us who come out and live openly in society, the better it will be for all of us!
So come out, come out, wherever you are. Join us who are already out and help make this world a better place for all transgenders. Harvey Milk was not wrong about gays coming out and I know that I am not wrong about transgenders coming out. Just do it and come out!
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has 3 grown children and works at 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.