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Where is the leadership in our LGBTQ community during a pandemic?

In the 1980s in the early '90s the LGBTQ community was devastated by the HIV pandemic. Today, there is an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States still living with HIV and on average approximately 15,000 people die each year from the end trails of that pandemic. Business owners, activists, and the LGBTQ organizations took the lead in fighting the HIV pandemic. Why are we not taking the lead in the Covid-19 pandemic?

Phoenix Pride is scheduling what will be a potentially deadly super spreader event as they have chosen to hold the Pride festival in November with no mask or vaccine mandates.

In an official response, Phoenix Pride informed me they were following CDC guidelines/recommendations. That is simply not true as the top recommendation from the CDC is for every eligible person to be vaccinated. They will hand out masks, they will offer rapid tests and vaccines at the gate though they know the tests are not fully accurate and the administration of a vaccine does not make you immune the first day.

Furthermore, Phoenix Pride claims they will watch the CDC guidelines and numbers and adjust accordingly. No, they will not. If they do not announce vaccine mandate now there is no way they would do it a week before the event. 

Since Pride is usually in April and the Rainbow Festival is usually in October, one can only surmise they are having the Pride Festival for financial reasons and/or they plan on next year combining the two events and not have any Pride in April but permanently switch it to the fall. At least, that is the way it appears from the outside looking in for they are not the most transparent organization. But what other reason would you have for holding what could potentially be a super spreader event in the community you claim to work for and care for and promote. What other reason than finances would you hold such an event?

Can it be done safely?

Absolutely it can be done safely or as safe as possible during a pandemic. If they required vaccines for entry that would be the ultimate protection. If they believe that leaves some people out for those who cannot show proof of vaccination they should require a negative PCR tests in the past 72 hours and a rapid test required at the gate along with the requirement to wear a mask the entire time.

The most recent Gallop Poll shows 92% of the LGBTQ community across the nation has been vaccinated. Though that number may be a little lower here in Arizona for unknown reasons, it is still a high majority and it would make best business practice sense to require vaccines to draw the most consumers. 

Imagine how many in the LGBTQ community not only here in Arizona, but in nearby California, Nevada, and New Mexico would love to participate in a safe event. I believe such an event would be a financial win for Phoenix Pride as well as our local economy.

The real bottom line is: Do we care about human life and are we willing to do what we can to protect it?

We certainly did in the 1980s-'90s, but there seems to be no sign of that now.

Perhaps we should boycott the Pride Festival and show up at the first LGBTQ business brave enough to take a leadership role by doing the right thing and requiring vaccines. Phoenix Pride seems to have no interest in taking such a role.

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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