On January 25, 2023 I had the honor to attend a City Council Meeting in Santee, CA. A neighboring city I am sure you all know. You may wonder why I call it an honor? The reason is I was there to support my dear friend and fellow community member Christynne Lili Wrene Wood. She stood before a crowd of hostile Santee residents, and luckily many of her own supporters, to answer to a false claim against her. If you are familiar at all with the reputation of the city well known in our circles as “Klantee”, throw in the fact that she is also a proud Black woman, this is no small feat of heroism. I don’t know how she got through it with such grace and aplomb. She made us all proud, she is a true Trans Warrior. If you haven’t heard the story just google Santee Transgender Woman YMCA.
It was emotionally challenging to be in that Council room, for me and many others. The hate that was extolled on Christynne and our community caused actual physical symptoms for me. I hid it well, but for others they were visibly shaken. We read about this all the time but we go relatively unscathed in San Diego for the most part. Oh there are incidents and petty annoyances, but this one just hit too close to home for me. Our entire country seems to be in some place of total chaos and hatred we haven’t seen the likes of in many years. It’s not just in the big cities or those other states, it’s right here in our own backyard. We have a large and rather out LGBTQ community here in San Diego County and I think it’s time to create a bigger and better network of activists to answer to these happenings of hate.
I think I am fairly well connected to the community, but why didn’t I hear about it until the 2nd protest held at the YMCA on Saturday January 19th? Why haven’t most people I have since talked to hear about it? This is one of the ways the right wing puts us all to shame, our community members, our community organizations, our media outlets like Facebook and Twitter or TikTok that so many of us use, they use it better. We can’t protest, we can’t make a stand, we can’t expect anyone to take us seriously if 10 people show up instead of hundreds like they have. Were any Trans leaders brought in to discuss ways to react to this? Does anyone ever consider that Transgender people need to have a place at the table?
San Diego Pride along with 27 or so other organizations signed on, put out a statement but it was too little too late. Also why were those organizations not passing on the story to their staff and volunteers to get the word out? One of my questions is this, who is deciding what we should and shouldn’t know??? Who is deciding for the Trans community what is important enough to make phone calls, send text messages, and gather the masses? I think it’s time we find a way to create our own chain of information. If we all sit around and wait until someone else decides to put the message out there, we are crushed every time by the opposition.
After 20 years of activism in San Diego for the Transgender, Non-binary, Intersex and LGB community I still cannot understand why I and other Transgender leaders are not being brought into the information circle. Is this just blatant Transphobia rearing its ugly head, or is it just that those who call themselves leaders feel they need to handle issues all by themselves? I would really like to understand this. I am beyond frustrated at being left out of the conversations.
Am I angry? You bet I am. Should my community be angry? You bet they should. If your organization doesn’t have Trans inclusion, or racial equity or a true representation of the people you serve, FIX IT. If you have tried to get on a board and have not been successful maybe you should talk to someone about why that is. If you know of an organization that is speaking for people without the buy-in of that community, question it. We cannot be complacent anymore, as one person at the Santee City Council said, this is War! You bet it is lady, but the war is against you and all the people who war on us, even if that includes someone you know.
But on the other side of the coin, what can the San Diego Trans Community be doing to help themselves?? How do you bring this incredibly marginalized and fractured community together? What is the LGB Community doing to help themselves and their Trans and Non-Binary and Intersex siblings? When is it going to be time for everyone to be an activist, when will things be bad enough for individual members of our community to say enough is enough, I need to do something. Oh you don’t know how to be an activist, you don’t need to be inclusive, and it’s not my problem. You all know those words and I am here to tell you IT IS OUR PROBLEM! The Trans community is fighting for their very lives, I hope you care about that.
Here is how you can be an activist. Attend a rally or a protest. Bring friends with you. Watch social media for action alerts or stories of hate, and after you read it you pass it along, to as many people as possible. Make signs for a rally or protest if you are too uncomfortable to go yourself, supply water or snacks for these events. There are so many ways every single person can contribute, yet they are not. Yes, you too can be an armchair activist, which is better than just ignoring what is going on around you. The apathy I have been seeing lately is driving me crazy. How many of you showed up for the rally after the Colorado Springs Shooting?? How many showed up for the event when the Marriage Equality Act was passed? How many of you volunteer with some community organization, even if it’s only once a year? Don’t tell me you can’t do that. How many of you are out and proud volunteering for events in our beautiful city? We need to be out there and show everyone that we are just as good, just as smart and just as caring for everyone. So go out, party on and let someone else worry about your world. Doesn’t count if it’s not happening to you, right?
Let’s keep in mind that everyone matters and if you are unhappy about a community organization, club, leadership, or whatever that you have a responsibility to DO something about it. Let’s get out of our vacuums and see life around us. It is easier now, more than at any time in history, to communicate how we feel to pretty much anyone. Emails are easy to access and letters to Board of Directors, CEO’s, and membership is available to anyone to write. Stop sitting around in the local clubs and restaurants and picnics and grumble about how things are, instead make a plan of action and follow it through, have others join you, the power is with the people, as long as there are enough of you.