When we think about our legacy, we often think about the way people will remember us. For many, a legacy is a way of being remembered forever. However, from my perspective, our legacy isn’t about how we are remembered, it is about how our work continues on without us. This Saturday, I was in Mayville, ND, for the Great Plains Affirming Campus Conference. GPACC is an annual meeting of LGBTQ+ students, allies, and faculty which works to stimulate a respectful and affirming dialog about LGBTQ+ issues on college campuses in the Great Plains region. For most of the attendees of Saturday’s conference, my role in creating and sustaining GPACC was largely unknown. But the work I had done was still alive and working blessings in the lives of all who benefitted from it. For me, that was enough. To know that the things I had done were thriving without me.
In 2014, after my first big media appearance, I received a letter from an anonymous person describing in vivid detail that gross sexual act that they would perform on me before smashing my head in. I remember reeling from the explicit and raw violence and the undisguised hatred my open and affirming life had incited. This was the first, but certainly wasn’t the last time my safety and my life have been threatened with violence. Indeed, I have spent a great deal of time and money working to ensure I am safe. As a transgender woman, and as a doctoral student, doing the work that I do for the transgender community involves a great deal of personal sacrifice. Many people, myself included, often wonder why I make the time and the financial, physical, and emotional sacrifices I make every month to keep the work going.
The last couple of weeks I have been reminded why. Two weeks ago, a young Trans person I mentored died by suicide, and this past Sunday, another Trans person who was a close friend of one of our trustees died by suicide. This year, the deadliest year to be transgender in the last decade, is full of nearly weekly reminders of how vulnerable transgender people are. For these people, the ability to courageously fight for dignity and justice are no longer an option. They are why I make this sacrifice. Even in light of the communications I receive which remind me that my ability to courageously fight for dignity and justice walks a thin line, I know that I am strong enough, and resilient enough, to live my life in spite of the fear and the hatred.
Among the hate-filled emails and letters I receive are the hidden gems. They are from people who were able to embrace their identity because of the help we provide on MyTransitionPartner.com. They are from parents weeping with gratitude because we helped them understand and embrace their child. They are from people in the community who are desperate to make the world a better, safer place for transgender people and were empowered to do so by our free, online education. Three weeks ago, one such email from a transgender person told me that because of a talk I gave at some point in the past, they found the courage to come out to their family. Today, they are living an open and affirming life because I told them that they deserved to be themselves, and that they were worthy to be loved by themselves, and by other people, for who they have always been.
The truth is, in order to have a legacy that changes the world, we must make great personal sacrifices. Whether they be a sacrifice of personal safety, financial resources, our time, or our creative energy. Having a life-changing legacy involves us doing something to improve the quality of life of the people around us. It involves us having a vision, or following the vision of another, that sees the world the way it is and the way it can be. It involves us understanding that we may never be remembered for our work, but knowing that because we did it, our work will continue to change lives long after we cease to do it.
For the last two weeks or so, we have been asking you to change the world. The Foundation is doing great work which is benefiting a large number of transgender people and their loved ones and allies every day. And doing that work takes a great deal of personal sacrifice by the network of volunteers across the United States who work every single day to keep MyTransitionPartner, the DJC Fund, and Pathways Magazine running smoothly.
To quote our Chief Volunteer Officer, “No one at DJCF gets a paycheck. All of our money goes to helping transgender people.” Our amazing volunteers, team members, and trustees volunteer an average of 12 hours per week per person toward the work that we do. They do so because they believe in the power of our legacy of changing the world.
If we are to keep doing the things we are doing, then we need your help. Your gift of time helps to reduce the number of hours each person has to give each week to keep our programs running. Your financial gift allows us to continue to provide grants, keep our websites online, and travel to communities like yours to provide on-site support. I’ll be honest, fundraising has been difficult over the past few months, and we have almost exhausted our budget for 2017. The low number of pledges we’ve received for 2018, thus far, have our executive board concerned about our ability to fund all of our programs next year.
You have the ability to be part of our legacy of changing the world. I am challenging you, as I do every time I talk to you, to think about the way you can help up help the transgender, gender nonconforming, gender nonbinary, and gender queer individuals in your community. Whether it is through a gift of time, your talents, or financial resources, your gift will go directly toward helping improve the health and global wellbeing of transgender people.
We need your help. Will helping us be part of your legacy?
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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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