While we are all cheering President Obama’s mention of gay rights during his second inaugural speech, Autum Sandeen provides us with an appropriate, sobering reminder that there’s still work for us to do to ensure that everyone in our community is included.
…words matter. By using the term “gay rights” instead of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights,” [President Obama] did not take the opportunity to talk about LGBT civil rights to a national audience. President Obama — unlike with gay civil rights issues — only speaks the terms “bisexual” and “transgender” to LGBT audiences, and doesn’t even mention his administration’s trans specific accomplishments to LGBT audiences.
The lack of rhetorical inclusion of trans people in the second inaugural speech means that President Obama isn’t including the vision of equality for trans people in the national civil rights dialogue in the same way he’s included the vision of equality for gay people in that dialogue.
I don’t think that it will be a big shocker to anyone that the exclusion of transgender, and even bisexual, people in the talking points and speeches is a move that is a calculated one. Politicos and even some gay and lesbian activists see mentioning transgender people as scaring away support that we are just begining to gain. But we shouldn’t pass over our transgender brothers and sisters so easily, nor should we let others pass them over either. By speaking about transgender people as what they are; people, we take away some of the fear-factors. By including them, we help combat the image of the manish-woman that anti-trans activists so often want to use in order to frighten the general public. By including them, we help to combat their exclusion from society and rights. Equality for all does mean equality for all.