By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
It’s June and Pride season is now in full swing. Since 2004, I’ve been attending Pride and participating in the marches. I have noticed that a lot has changed for trans people in those past 11 years. When I first marched in 2004, not too many people knew about trans people. We would march and people would just look at us like we were a business group or a church group. We might have received some polite claps, but that was about it. They didn’t know who we really were.
I remember in 2005 at a local Pride march I was continually chanting “Hey hey! Ho ho! Transphobia has got to go!” When I did a search a few days later on that Pride march, a blogger wrote that he heard “Hey hey! Ho ho! Homophobia has got to go!” He didn’t recognize the word “transphobia,” so he assumed that it was “homophobia.” My message was lost on him.
Trans people really didn’t begin gaining recognition from the general public until around 2007. That was when I noticed that we were receiving more than polite claps when we marched. People were beginning to understand who we were and the support seemed to begin then. Every year since, the support has grown stronger and louder.
This year was the best year for response when we marched in the 2015 Northampton, Massachusetts Pride. People were loudly clapping and cheering for us all through the march. They all knew who we were and they all supported us quite wonderfully! [pullquote]I think that it is wonderful that this incredible Olympic athlete, who was America’s darling during the 1976 Olympics, and Time magazine’s “World’s Greatest Athlete” is now a visible trans person.[/pullquote]
Every year since 2004 we received more and more notoriety in the marches as more and more trans people became visible to the general public. It really helped when famous trans people such as Chaz Bono, Kristen Beck, and Laverne Cox became visible. This year, I credit Bruce Jenner and the ABC Diane Sawyer 20/20 Interview for bringing total awareness of trans people to the general public.
I think that it is wonderful that this incredible Olympic athlete, who was America’s darling during the 1976 Olympics, and Time magazine’s “World’s Greatest Athlete” is now a visible trans person. This greater visibility of notable trans people may help the troubled young trans person who is considering suicide. It’s important to have famous role models when you are struggling to come to terms with yourself.
The general public now knows us and things have gotten better, but back in 2004 that wasn’t the case. In 2004 most trans people were losing their jobs when they even discussed their intent to transition to their true gender. It was not a good time for us. Today, there are trans people who apply for jobs in their true gender and in many cases it’s not an issue at all. I know of one person who applied for a job as male and said that she was going to begin the job as female. The employer didn’t bat an eye and hired her! No, we are not certainly completely there yet in terms of acceptance in the workforce, but we have come a long way since 2004.
In 2004, many trans people had difficulty in getting housing. Rental owners would flat out deny them and refused to even discuss the possibility of renting to the trans person. Today it’s still difficult in many places around the country and the world, but it’s much easier for trans people in many areas as well. [pullquote]This greater visibility of notable trans people may help the troubled young trans person who is considering suicide. It’s important to have famous role models when you are struggling to come to terms with yourself.[/pullquote]
The medical profession has also gotten better about trans patients and their needs. In 2004 there were cases of hospital personnel actually refusing to treat trans patients. I recall having appointments with therapists where I knew much more about being trans than they did. I also remember having appointments with doctors and how they really didn’t know much at all about treating trans people. I remember telling them that I have breasts and a prostate and I needed both checked. It was rather disheartening, but since those days the medical profession has come around and in many cases they are now up to speed.
Looking back, we have made great strides in gaining acceptance, spreading knowledge, and enjoying freedoms and services as trans people. There is still much work to be done, but the future does look promising. We have most definitely come a long way since 2004!
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a trans woman who has three grown children and is retired from 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.