The last twelve or so months have been a roller-coaster of emotions. On every front we seem to be assaulted by attacks on many of the values that we hold dear as Americans. Truth has been replaced by opinion, logic by shock value, and the voices of diverse communities continually silenced under the guise of patriotism and faith.
As a member of a minority group, I have felt the tension very strongly. Every morning as I wake up, there is a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that signals to me an uneasiness about what the day will hold. All around me I see ordinary people empowered to behave in discriminatory and hurtful ways. I have watched my government strategically dismantle the protections people like me gained over the last decade.
There are days when I feel hopeless, when I wonder if the life I treasure will be taken from me. Will I be able to finish my doctorate? Will I be able to marry and have children? What kind of future will they have? I worry about the people whom I love who are also affected by these trying times, and I wonder if they will be safe.
I recently had a conversation with a friend in which I bemoaned these concerns. I told her, “I worry about having my dignity taken away.” “Darcy,” she said, “that is the only thing you have that can never be taken from you.” Her words struck me like a brick, and they led me to think for many days about the pathways our community have taken to get to where they are today.
When we think about the events at the Stonewall Inn and the foundation they laid for the Pride celebrations we have each year, it is common to forget that the first bricks thrown at that fateful riot in 1969 were thrown by transgender women of color. Women such as Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera and Miss Major put themselves in the front lines of our fight for equality. They were marginalized people who had had enough.
They were tired of being told they weren’t good enough, that they weren’t worthy of sitting at the table of American life. They were tired of having their safety threatened and their dignity trampled. They were tired of worrying about their loved ones like them.
My dearest ones: We are in a hard time right now. We will be threatened and mocked. We will have all sorts of injustices thrown at us. But we cannot give up. We must continue to boldly live our truths and reclaim our narratives. We cannot forget that they, our foresiblings, experienced hard times as well, and they resisted and fought back. And the bricks they threw laid a foundation for the lives you are living today.
In the same way, the bricks we throw in resistance will lay the foundation for the next generation.
Darcy J. Corbitt-Hall
President and CEO
Since November, the transgender community has been in a state of panic and turmoil. Uncertainty and fear about the future is becoming the new norm for us as we await the day when the Federal government turns its back on us and leaves us to the mercy of the states which historically have not been prone to leading the way on civil rights issues. Even worse is the fear that our identities will become illegal identities, and we will be forced to back into the rigid binary from which we have escaped. These fears are very real, despite the continual gaslighting which has been going non-stop since the last president election began. In the first two months of the new administration we have already begun to see some of our worst fears realized with the Secretary of Justice announcing a reversal of the Obama Administration’s policy on transgender students and Title IX. While a new wave of anti-transgender bathroom bills have not been at the forefront of our national discourse, several states have taken steps to penalize LGBTQ+ identity by legalizing discrimination by adoption agencies.
Even the Supreme Court has taken stabs at the transgender community. Last month, the nation’s highest court remanded the case of Gavin Grimm back to the lower Federal court. Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his school district for discriminatory policies related to bathroom and locker room use by transgender students. This bright young man with a great future ahead of him is currently stalled, awaiting justice instead of enjoying his final years of school and preparing for college like the average teenage boy should. This experience will most certainly have adverse, long-term effects on him both socially, psychologically, and academically as he awaits the court’s decision to honor his personhood or denounce it.
In response to the court’s decision, Grimm stated that this fight is “bigger than himself.” This courageous young man recognizes what many do not: our fight for equality under the law and inclusion in our communities is bigger than the individuals who work diligently at the forefront and who sacrifice much for their community. So often do we underestimate the far-reaching importance of the very little things we do. Recently, one of my colleagues was telling me about a friend of hers who had passed away. This friend, The Hon. Myron Bright, was a federal judge who passed down a ruling which established the right of workers to file race-based discrimination lawsuits. This ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court.
The courage of the plaintiffs and the wisdom of one man changed the course of American justice. While many of us may not have the opportunities in our life to effect so great a change, we do have the power to set of a chain reaction of events which lead to a major change. Judge Bright alone was not responsible for the change he made to the precedent of law. His decision was influenced by his mentors before him, by his professors, by his colleagues, by other legal precedent, by a member of his synagogue teaching him about fairness as a young boy, and by numerous other experiences he had in his life. Every thing we do, be it large or small, has the power to change the world in either good ways or bad ways.
It remains to be seen how the events of November will alter our society either for the better or for worst. Regardless, it is up to us as the marginalized to keep our heads high and our will strong. It is up to our allies to stand with us, to help us magnify our voices, and to help our organizations help us improve our quality of life. Fear is normal. Grief is reasonable. Yet in our fear and our grief, hope continues to speak to us like a golden sky stretching before us. Listen to its sweet silver song, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid. Remember those who are fighting with you and who are here for you, and as the song says, when you do all of these things, you’ll never walk alone. Because this is bigger than you and me. We are in this together, and we will never give up, never give in, and never surrender to hatred and division.
Darcy J. Corbitt-Hall
President and CEO
Who We Are
Darcy Jeda Corbitt Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity promoting the health and global wellbeing of transgender, queer, and gender nonconforming individuals. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by US Federal Tax Code.
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