Milwaukee Pride honors Transgender Awareness Month

downloadAccording to a recent Harris poll,  only one in six people knows a transgender person. It’s time for change.

Although the number of people who know a transgender person has doubled since 2008, the health, safety, workplace and civil rights challenges of the transgender community have also increased.

Milwaukee Pride, Inc. has declared November as Transgender Awareness Month — including both Transgender Awareness Week and the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Friday, November 20 — as an opportunity to educate the public on a cultural state of emergency.

Trans_Awareness7We now live in a world where the life expectancy of a trans woman of color is 35 years old.

These harsh statistics may shock cisgender (non-transgender) people, who have only begun to learn about the transgender community through the media.  In 2015, there are more transgender characters on network TV than ever before in broadcast history.  Several popular shows are featuring trans characters in leading roles, and multiple documentaries are chronicling trans lives.  Attitudes about the fluidity of gender and sexual identities are changing, particularly among Millennials, the demographic that shows the highest percentage (27%) of connectivity with transgender individuals.

transequality“There has been a noticeable amount more attention given to the trans community over the past year by the general media,” said Jessica Baker, Milwaukee Pride, Inc. Board of Directors.  “While this has provided a bit more visibility, it has only scratched the surface. More importantly, it demonstrates how little real knowledge of the transgender community most people have.”

“Transgender Awareness Month brings attention to the reality of transgender life.  Hopefully, one day it will be ‘Transgender History Month’ where we can celebrate the accomplishments of the community and stress the fight for more, as we do with LGBT History Month, but we aren’t there yet.  Now, Transgender Awareness Month is the time when we draw attention to the most basic things —  from transphobic language and microaggressions to non-binary genders and pronouns — to serious daily struggles — like discrimination and homelessness —  to overarching dangers of violence and assault.”

With such a great need for continuous community education, one month is not nearly enough to drive change.

“I still receive questions about why transgender awareness needs any reflection at all,” said Syd Robinson, Milwaukee Pride Inc., Board of Directors.  “To those questions, I raise these:  Is it now (or was it ever) important to you to celebrate your birth? Is it intrinsic to you‎r identity, to mark a passing of time to reflect on your growth, the loss of your loved ones, and the progress that you and your family have made?”

WisconsinStudentsBillTw“We are all born with the birthright to live with dignity, success and fulfillment. We need Transgender Awareness Month because of the need for change. A change from oppression, and violence. A change from marginalization and transphobia. So, to the question of why we need transgender awareness, my answer is this: It’s important to remember that we are only able to change what we are aware of.”
Milwaukee Pride, Inc. strongly believes in the importance of being a supportive and positive ally to our transgender friends and family this month, and every month.
How can you show your alliance?

“We’ve come a long, long way together,” said Michail Takach, Milwaukee Pride, Inc. communications director,” but we cannot become complacent or closed-minded when the most vulnerable members of our community are suffering.  Each of us must do what we can, and use what we have, to elevate awareness and advocacy for transgender rights.”

PrideFest Milwaukee is produced by Milwaukee Pride, Inc, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, compliant with all State of Wisconsin and IRS rules.