By Camille LawheadContributing ReporterPublished Wednesday, November 11, 2009Clad in a flowing leopard-print robe, transgender rights and prison reform activist Miss Major said that as a black male-to-female transgender person, she has been ostracized and discriminated against since she began her gender transition in the 1950s. And although she said social conditions for transgender people have improved, she added there is still progress to be made........At the Silliman College Master’s Tea Tuesday, Miss Major discussed a range of topics, tracing her involvement with the transgender rights movement in the 1960s to her current advocacy for prisoners’ rights. She said there are significant differences between the gay civil rights movement and the transgender civil rights movement: the public, she said, is more accepting of gay rights, and the legal system grants rights to gay people that it does not necessarily offer to transgender people. Students said the talk was interesting, as it represented the perspective of someone who had experienced the beginning of the gay and transgender civil rights movements........Miss Major, 67, has spent 40 years advocating for transgender rights and prison reform, and has raised six sons, three of whom are still alive. She recently became the Executive Director of the Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project, an organization that describes its mission as to “challenge and end the human rights abuses committed against transgender people in California prisons and beyond.”........“At the bottom of the totem pole are transgender people,” said Miss Major. “It chips away from us as a people.”She also spoke about her experiences in the gay rights movement from its inception, including the 1969 Stonewall Riots. On June 28 of that year, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar, and began arresting patrons, eventually using force when they resisted. For several nights in the wake of the raid, gay and transgender people and supporters rioted in the streets. This was considered the beginning of the modern gay rights movement in the United States, according to civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union.Miss Major was one of the Stonewall patrons that night. Though the bar raided was mostly patronized by transgender men and women, she said, the transgender community quickly disappeared from the picture in the ensuing movement. Instead, she said, the gay community benefited most.“We had no idea the impact we had by holding our ground,” Miss Major said of the patrons’ response in the bar. “From there, it became a thing of the gay and lesbian community. They are standing on our backs to reach the goals they’re trying to achieve.”.......In 2008, Miss Major testified at the United Nations about the abuses of transgender women of color in the United States.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Posted by De Sube at 11/13/2009 05:01:00 AM