I want to tell you about what I did — and didn’t — do this past Thursday night. First off, what I did do was attend a little get-together that raised funds for the LGBT pride parade in Madison this August. It was a rather simple party, with just under a couple dozen supporters and Board of Directors membership of Madison’s LGBT community center, held in the home and garden of one of the center’s longtime supporters in one of Madison’s more cozier and aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods (lots of shade trees, narrow and winding streets, beautifully manicured yards).
I had started work on another post about a different subject this morning, but the significance of this particular day (June 12) has ordered me to take a different direction tonight. Today is, of course, the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 lovely lives were cut short in horrific fashion.
I made passing mention in my last blog post about this, but it’s time to finally give it the spotlight here: Last Thursday morning (June 1), three members of the Wisconsin State Legislature introduced to assembled media and the public a new piece of legislation currently seeking co-sponsorship from fellow legislators. The proposal, as with any piece of legislation (federal, state, or otherwise), has a grand name: The Privacy Protection and Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act. And a press release announcing the proposal succinctly sums up the bill’s importance:
“A bill that would add protections to Wisconsin statutes against discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or gender expression.”
If you saw some of my retweets on Twitter a couple of days ago, you learned that there was a significant bill introduced in Wisconsin’s state legislature that, if it becomes law, would prohibit discrimination based on one’s gender identity or expression. I’m trying to formulate a post devoted solely to that piece of legislation (which you can learn about here). But in the meantime, I want to highlight a couple of interesting LGBT-related items.
The first was another piece of big Wisconsin news this week involving Ash Whitaker, a student at Kenosha’s Tremper High School who received disrespect from the administration of both the school and the school district just because he is transgender. Originally, Ash made news for wanting to run for prom king, but was rebuffed by Tremper High officials who dictated that he run for prom queen or be dropped from consideration for prom court altogether. The school relented, allowing anyone who qualified for prom court to run for prom king or prom queen, whichever one matched the gender they identified as.
My previous post, which you can read here, had me talking about a place of higher learning not too far from my old neck of the (literal) woods establishing a LGBT resource and support center. After I added it to this blog, I couldn’t help but think about it further…
First off, I can’t say enough how great it is for the University of Wisconsin—Marinette to establish a LGBT center. I’m happy, of course, that it’s happening in the area where I spent the later years of my adolescence. More than that, though, I’m happy for those in Marinette and vicinity who identify as part of the LGBT spectrum or are LGBT allies, for they finally — finally! — have somewhere where they can find resources; obtain information on healthcare, transitioning, support, etc.; or just find a safe, welcoming place where they will not be judged for who they identify as or who they may be attracted to.
Please don’t let the title of this post make you think I’ve become blasé about the opening of a center dedicated to those who identify as part of the LGBT community. That’s not the case, for any office or center, large or small, that’s dedicated to providing support, resources, or just a conversation place to our community is a vitally important thing to have, wherever it may be. Now more than ever, it seems that these centers and the resources they can provide are important, even as our community has made great strides towards rights and acceptance.
Yeah, I was angry last Thursday. And not because I heard about how lawmakers in North Carolina repealed that infamous “Bathroom Law” law that not only required transgender people in government and public buildings to use the restrooms that goes with the gender on their birth certificate, but also prevented local municipalities (like, say, Charlotte) to enact anti-discrimination policies — which, in turn, led to North Carolina losing a lot of lucrative business (like, say, college sports championships).
Today (March 31) is the International Transgender Day of Visibility, which is a day meant to celebrate those who identify as transgender and to help raise awareness of discrimination faced by trans people everywhere. (It should not be conflated with the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which occurs in November.)
I won’t get too much into the ins and outs of TDoV in this post, though I do recommend you learn more about the day (here is a good starting point). What I do want to do is dedicate a few lines of prose (and passing references towards David Bowie and J. Geils Band) to this day and to trans people of all stripes, especially those who, by circumstance or choice, may not live out and proud. While this prose may not be perfect, know that the words are meant to communicate my appreciation for you, whatever you may identify as.
“I See You”
I see you over there
Sitting all alone and scared
You’re not sure if you’re a boy or a girl
And it’s got your mother in a whirl
The world wants to put you down
And make you frown
They’re misguided for insisting you’re one thing
When you know you’re not what they’re saying
They want you to wear one set of clothes
A set in which you’ll never grow
For that, they think you’re an abomination
But, really, you’re an amazing creation
I know, they want to put you down
To keep you from wiping off your frown
You know you’re one thing
When everyone says you’re another
But to me, you’re more than a sister or a brother
No, really, you’re beautiful
Just the way you are
So don’t be afraid
Shine your own kind of light
Fight their darkness with your personality bright
Oh, I’m sorry
You don’t want to come out?
You do want to be the person you are
But you don’t want to scream or shout?
It’s okay, I understand
I have my own four-walled Neverland
Where I can feel free
And be who I know I be
Which is whatever gender I can be
But you want to be quiet about it
And, really, that’s okay
For it’s good, even better
To be more than whatever gender
But I do wish you can be free
You deserve to be who you know you be
Free from prying eyes
Free from disdaining eyes
Wait… Please, wait…
Yes, I see you
And I do accept you
For you being you
No, it doesn’t matter to me
What gender you may be
Male or female
Maybe both, maybe neither
Know, though, that I admire you
And I will stand by you and with you
And help protect you
And keep the wolves at bay
No matter what the world may say
I’ll have your back until my last day
Fully displayed or in the closet
Know that you’re living honest
But if you’re not out now, don’t worry
For if the time comes when
You show the world who you are
There will be those who will call you friend
There will be those just like you
Or supportive and accepting of you
Who will have your back if you fall
And help you stand up and stand tall
I will be there with you
For today, I see you
And I love and respect you
Because no matter who you are
And no matter what others will say of you
You are living your life… amazingly
Just by being… you
I want to devote this quick post to a comment a reader left on a couple of my posts this week. I did not approve their comments as I thought the comments section wasn’t an appropriate place to address their pretty good inquiry. Luckily, I’m one to think long and hard about their questions can devote a new post to the answers.
I won’t single out this person by name or gender, but I will describe what they said they were: They are into crossdressing; they had recently relocated to the Madison, Wisconsin area; and they were inquiring about crossdresser-friendly social groups and organizations in Madison. They also asked about any places in Madison where a crossdresser would be socially accepted.
My previous post was rather obliquely about the Women’s March that occurred here in Madison last Saturday (January 21), but… wait, you thought the only Women’s March occurred in Washington last weekend? I’ll just presume you weren’t paying attention to the news, because in nearly 600 locales here in the United States and worldwide, millions of people took to the streets to highlight very important issues in society, including but not limited to health care, environment, and women’s and racial issues, as well as stand up to the very ugly, hateful, and misogynistic culture that the new leadership the U.S., fronted by a certain thin-orange-skinned leader, is so easily propagating.