It's Time for Us

Have you ever wished you could be who you are, dress as you wish, and not have to worry that the world might trash you? Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where transgendered people are accepted just like any other interesting people? How about being able to work, en femme, when we want? Some of us are working to make that vision a reality.

This is the first in a series of regular columns about transgender advocacy. That means selling the public on the idea that trannies are real people, and that we deserve the same rights as everyone else. Wow - what a concept!

The most important part of advocacy is education. Joe Sixpack only hears about Transsexuals and Crossdressers from the Radical Right, and from jokes that equate transvestites with hookers. When they meet real live transpeople, and see how ordinary and human we are, it's amazing how quickly the myths are dispelled.

[It's Time, Ohio!] is the Ohio chapter of [It's Time, America!] Our mission is to advocate and educate for transpeople in Ohio. This includes fighting for rights for transpeople, mostly by educating people about who we are. I am the current Chairperson of [It's Time, Ohio!], or [ITOH] for short.

A major goal of ITOH is to work with the Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual (GLB) community, effectively forming the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender community. (It's easier to say LesBiGaTr, which rhymes with alligator.) We've accomplished more for transpeople in the last three years by accepting the gracious coattails of GLB people than we accomplished for 20 years working alone. An immediate goal is to become part of Stonewall Columbus's constituent group, which currently says it represents only Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual people.

We are working with other [It's Time, America!] chapters to change the world, one step at a time. Employers, such as Lucent Technologies, are being asked to liberalize their diversity policies. City and state governments are passing nondiscrimination laws, like the one just passed in New Orleans. Education resources and speakers bureaus are being set up. We are working with GLB organizations, churches, city and state governments, and employers, to make the world a better place.

We need your help. Two people can't do much alone. If you sit on your comfortable seat in a support group meeting, that will be the only place you can be yourself. By getting involved, you can make a difference, and you can do it en femme. You don't have to come out, you don't have to be on the 6 O'Clock news. You can have fun and change the world at the same time!

June is a busy month in the LesBiGaTr community. Stonewall Columbus asked us to put on an event as part of Pride month. A simple showing of the Jamison Green videotape was expanded into the LesBiGaTr BBQ. We advertised in the Stonewall Journal, and put up flyers all over the Short North. We were fortunate to have a pastoral setting in the Reynoldsburg Universalist Unitarian Church's back yard, and a beautiful sunny comfortable day.

We had a great event and made a difference with Stonewall. I'd like to give a special thanks to Stephanie, Carrie, Judy, and Cathy, who pitched in and made the dream a reality. And a heartfelt "You go, girl!" to Sarah, who conceived and made the barbecue happen.

June 28 was the LesBiGay Holiday. As unfortunate as the title is, this is the key event for thousands of LesBiGaTrs statewide. At Stonewall's request, we set up a table for the event. We distributed literature and buttons, got people to fill out hate crime surveys, and offered a petition asking Stonewall to include "transgender" in its mission. Our LesBiGaTr buttons were visible all over the park.

132 people signed our petition, with about 6Z% identifying as transgender. Only a half dozen refused to sign the petition. The crowd was with us.

As this column goes to press, we have heard there was a protest during the parade, with a wonderful group of people saying that Stonewall should include us. We are very grateful to this group, and hope to soon find out whom to thank. (We were too busy at the ITOH table to see or march in the parade.)

It's Time, Ohio! has made its mark as part of the Central Ohio GLBT community. Now on to real productive work! Why don't you join us at our monthly meetings, 6:30 PM the second Thursday of each month, at Stonewall Columbus? August is Stonewall Education night.

This page and all columns are copyright (c) 1998-1999 Mary Ann Horton. All rights reserved.