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Pose star Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez, whose turn as determined drag ball empress—and nurse—Blanca Evangelista on that slice-of-life drama made her the first transgender performer to score a leading-role Emmy® nomination, will accept GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics' latest LGBTQIA+ Trailblazer Award in the group's Dorians TV Toast 2021 airing Sunday evening, August 29, 8pm ET, 5pm PT on Here TV and the PlanetOut channel on YouTube.

"I'm so thankful," Rodriguez says during an interview segment in the show, adding her GALECA Trailblazer award carries unique meaning because it comes from “my community." Though she is a Latina and Black trans woman, “Who I am is a human being first," stresses Rodriguez. Yet her status as a groundbreaking role model is not lost on her.

“There's a generation behind me that needs to know what transness looks like, and also how we are being represented in the world. I'm going to keep trying my best and instill hope."

Rodriguez, a pop/R&B singer as well as actress, recently released the video version of her summer hit tune, tellingly titled “Something to Say." She next stars with Maya Rudolph in the Apple TV+ comedy series Loot.

"Michaela Jaé is an extraordinarily talented actress and musician and it is our honor to celebrate her talents with the LGBTQIA+ Trailblazer Award," says GALECA's President, Monika Estrella Negra."With trans women of color being the most vulnerable in our society, it is inspiring to witness Michaela breaking down doors in order to let others in. This award is much deserved and I am so excited to see what the future holds for her."

Additional Dorian TV Award winners will be revealed across 15 categories in the two-hour program, a mix of award and magazine shows that celebrates the past TV season's best performances and shows, from general to LGBTQIA+-themed. A full list of nominees can be seen here.

Presenters include Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Beals, Olivia Newton-John (unveiling the Campiest TV Show), TitussBurgess (Best Unsung TV Show), Fran Drescher, Big Freedia, Saturday Night Live cast member Punkie Johnson, Michael Cimino (Love, Victor), Hannah Einbinder (Hacks), Leyna Bloom (Pose), Jesse James Keitel (Big Sky), Josie Totah (Saved by the Bell), Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Doogie Kameāloha, M.D.), ABC 7 (Los Angeles) entertainment reporter Karl Schmid, RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Gottmik (a.k.a. Kade Gottlieb), actor-comic John Lehr (Hulu's Quick Draw) and sitcom icon Jim J. Bullock (Too Close for Comfort, Alf).

Famed LA broadcasting veteran and LGBTQ rights activist Karel is the pre-recorded program's lively host as well as executive producer. “We're reinventing the way award shows are structured," says Karel. “We don't go for typical acceptance speeches. We hear from the winners about what drew them to their project, how it changed them, and what and who have inspired them. And viewers get to hear from the Society's journalists too, about how TV has expanded their world. Our format is entertaining, informative and relevant. TV's power, so evident in our lives, demands that."

Karel
ABOUT GALECA

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics sponsors the Dorian Awards, honoring the best in film and TV, mainstream to queer+. The Society helps to remind bullies, bigots and the community's at-risk youth that the world loves the Q eye on great and unique entertainment. An all-volunteer nonprofit professional organization, GALECA consists of over 300 critics and journalists who write for a variety of influential media outlets in the United States, Canada, Australia and the U.K. Support the group and keep up with its doings @DorianAwards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For more information, visit GALECA.org.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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