From our friends at GetEqual:
Next week is a big week. On September 19, “Dancing With the Stars” will feature two openly LGBT contestants — Chaz Bono and Carson Kressley. Though the show has featured gay contestants before, this is the first time a transgender American will have such a huge national platform. And hours later, at midnight on September 20, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal will finally be implemented. Decades after the policy was passed into law, our country has now taken a huge step forward in saying that keeping queer folks out of the military just doesn’t make any sense.
But, though next week is big, there is still so much work left to do. My friend Chaz has received hate mail like you wouldn’t believe, simply for daring to dance as an out, proud transgender man on prime time TV. And, while DADT repeal is a big step forward for our civil rights fight, progress for transgender people still lags behind. Repealing DADT would not allow Chaz – or any other transgender person – to serve in the military. And while Chaz can entertain us on “Dancing With the Stars” (hopefully for many weeks to come), he (like other LGBT Americans) still risks unfair hurdles to being considered for and to keeping jobs, since it is legal in 29 states to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and in 35 states to do so based on gender identity or expression.
You can take action here!
GetEQUAL recognizes both the progress we’ve made and the hard work ahead — and the organization I direct, the Transgender Law Center, is proud to work with GetEQUAL on both celebrations and calls for further progress. GetEQUAL is partnering with Robin Tyler and Belinda Carroll, who are organizing viewing parties across the country next Monday to support Chaz Bono as he waltzes across the floor on “Dancing With the Stars.” These viewing parties are *great* opportunities to have conversations with your friends and neighbors about the unique issues that trans folks face, and we’ll provide one-page resource sheets to all event organizers to distribute at their event!
Whatever you choose to do next week, please take action somehow. Chaz is taking to the dance floor because he was born into a celebrity family, and is using that visibility to raise awareness of LGBT issues. While that’s a wonderful way to educate Americans about transgender issues, we must remember that the rates of long-term unemployment, chronic homelessness, military discharge, workplace discrimination, and violence are staggeringly high in the transgender community. While Chaz has a bright future ahead of him (and is handling attacks against him well), we all know that continued problems with resources and discrimination among transgender Americans prevents this country from truly living up to its promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
I urge you to take action next week in whatever way makes the most sense for you. Click on the link below to see opportunities to take action from the screen to the street and everywhere in-between.
Click here to take action!
On behalf of Chaz and of the Transgender Law Center, thank you!
Executive Director, Transgender Law Center
P.S. — I am particularly struck by the impact Chaz’s participation in DWTS is having on the American public. People who have never thought about trans people, much less have seen a transgender man, are starting to ask questions about transgender issues. Let’s keep this issue in the spotlight as long as possible to promote the kind of broad public education we need to win federal protections and fight against anti-equality efforts to get Chaz off the show. I hope you’ll join me in voting for Chaz and Carson so that LGBT people can dance their way into the living rooms of middle America for many weeks to come!!
P.P.S. — As you’re considering whether or not to organize a viewing party and/or an action, also please consider signing our petition to Governor Jerry Brown, asking him to sign the Gender Nondiscrimination Act, sitting on his desk right now. That will have a huge impact on transgender and gender non-conforming Californians for generations to come!