We are nearing the end of Transgender Awareness Week. But we are not even close to the end of our need for it. Increasing awareness is literally a life or death issue for 1 out of every 250 people in the U.S. (and their families) who identify by a different gender than they were assigned at birth. It seeks to honor the lives and rights of transgender people and cultivate awareness, understanding, acceptance and advocacy within the dominant culture that surrounds them.
Transgender Awareness Week is a transformational week of heart opening stories for those who’ve discovered authenticity, courage, integrity, and the heartbreaking things they’ve faced due to prejudice, discrimination, and violence.
Given that 80% Americans believe they have never personally met someone who is transgender, that means the majority of the public’s education and awareness about this community has been shaped by more than a century’s worth of misinformed, prejudiced, harmful and oppressive media which has significantly influenced public perception, policy, and attitudes about the trans community.
This year, the Gay, Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is encouraging everyone to watch the documentary DISCLOSURE on Netflix and POSE on FX. It explores the history of trans representation in TV and film in unprecedented form, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures people’s deepest anxieties about gender.
Unfortunately, our current level of awareness isn’t enough to prevent the myriad of ways prejudice has ended, ‘othered’ or otherwise scarred the lives and families of the transgender community. Widespread social stigma, discrimination, harassment, physical and sexual abuse are rampant.
The irony is, lives of transgender community are actually lost due to the disease of prejudice that infects the world around them. This brought on the need for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, typically held on the last day of Awareness week.
In the past I have cited more statistics to drive the point home how much pain there is in our midst. But one of the things the transgender community wants us all to know is that they are more than statistics. They are human lives seeking liberation. And that is only honored when we seek liberation from prejudice with them. It’s important we KNOW THEIR NAMES AND STORIES.
Let me close with this prayer – an adaptation of the Lord’s Prayer by the Central Congregational Church of Atlanta
God – and all of us who know the power of giving life
The hallowing of your name shines forth in the diversity of your children.
May your peace and love, justice and equality, inclusion and belonging reign here on earth as in heaven.
Grant that our transgender loved ones might have their daily needs met—that they might find gainful employment without discrimination; that they might have access to medical care without fear; that they might have their rights and lives protected, and that they might find a loving community to belong to and call their own.
Forgive us for the ways that we have fallen short and failed our transgender brethren. Forgive us of the times we turned away, or did not care; for the times we laughed or judged their unique expression of your image; for the times we have misspoken, asked too much, or failed to hear.
As we forgive those who might have failed us.
Lead us away from the temptation to be complacent in the face of injustice. But instead give us courage to stand up and stand with your beloved children. For your love and justice is to be made manifest now and forever.
Rev. Greg Ward