Don’t shut up about LGBT issues

It’s interesting, the messages one sees in the world. Any number of vastly different influential factors can shape our interpretations, our respective lenses through which we see the world. To those who have grown up as part of the LGBT culture, one message stands out. It is a message we see in all manner of media and interaction. A resounding message:

Shut up.

Nov. 20 is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. And, like National Coming Out Day, like the Day of Silence, like the day that we, as the ISU LGBTAA send invitations to our inaugural meeting of the school year, we see and hear a coercive message. Shut up. We don’t want you here. You are sick. You are degenerates. You force your ways upon us. Shut up.

Or else.

From 1999 to 2009, there was an estimated minimum of 393 deaths attributed to transphobia or hatred around the world. From Nov. 20, 2009, to Nov. 15, 2010, that estimated total climbed to 580. The details of these crimes are horrific: drowning, battering, gang-rape; one man in August killed his girlfriend’s infant son with his bare hands, claiming, “I was trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl.”

When mommy blogger Sarah of “Nerdy Apple Bottom” wrote “My Son is Gay,” she made headlines. Her now-viral post chronicles her son’s misadventure at a preschool Halloween celebration when he strolled in wearing a costume of Daphne from Scooby-Doo.

And though the vast majority of comments on her own blog — as well as other sites which have covered the story, including CNN and the New York Times  — are positive, there are still those who call Sarah a bad mother, an irresponsible parent, an emasculating dictator. They tell her she should have dissuaded her child. They say she should have not made this public. They tell her to shut up.

It’s something Jacob Wilson, Senior in Women’s Studies and GSB Senator could relate to at the ISU LGBTAA’s Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil Wednesday evening.

“In general, people don’t understand, and that makes them scared,” Wilson said. “They’re scared because they can’t grasp a concept so different from what they know.”

Wilson also said that promoting education and acceptance should be top priorities, remarking that, “It’s ignorance that leads to fear.”

Shari Reilly, another attendee of the vigil and Director of Campus Ministry for St. Thomas Aquinas shared similar concerns.

“We always struggle to let go of bias, but it’s a struggle we should all continue to work through,” she said. “Hate’s not okay; in any language.”

And indeed, hatred takes on many languages. Whether it’s comments on a blog post, death threats in an e-mail, bullying in school, anti-LGBT music and film, or the outright murder of a transgender person, it hurts; and not just the LGBT community. Hatred hurts us all, as a nation and as a society.

Hatred causes us to fight each other instead of fighting to progress. It causes us to fear and seek vengeance on our fellow man for the ways in which we perceive we have been wronged. It fixes our attention onto a mother and child, whom we judge without remorse. It boils under our skin when a minority celebrates its pride in its identity and memorializes those lost to violence and compels us to tell them:

Go away. Shut up.

As a proud member of the ISU LGBTAA; as a proud transgender woman; as a proud ISU Cyclone, I say with no hesitation: Here on Iowa State’s campus, we celebrate who we are. We remember those lost to tragedy.

We do not, nor will we ever, shut up.