Last week marked a beautiful moment for us—we celebrated our 9th anniversary with lots of love, joy, and fanfare. A day later, on the night of March 22nd, we were contacted by National Youth Pride Services and informed of a physical assault on one of their members. The news was a jolting reminder that forced us to acknowledge, once again, that our work is nowhere close to being done.
A moment of cognitive dissonance is when you experience conflicting thoughts or attitudes toward a certain topic or an event. For example, if you are walking for several blocks and you realize that someone may be following you, but you are unsure, so you decide to cross the street. That very moment when you cross over, and that person begins to cross behind you – that’s what we call cognitive dissonance.
It’s that moment of realization that, “Hey, something’s not right here!”
Just like in this example, moments of cognitive dissonance propel us to take action, right? In this scenario, you either decide to fight or flight. Similarly, when we heard that one of NYPS’ trans members was attacked, we questioned why and wanted to immediately take action, but days later we slowed down a bit and began to question, well why did we react so hastily? Why did this unfortunate event spark a moment of cognitive dissonance for us? The answer is simple.
This fight belongs to all of us, and we mean all.
#Fact: the trans community is one of the most oppressed minority communities in our society. #Fact: the biggest human rights issue facing the trans and gender diverse community is safety. #Fact: a 2017 report found 43% of trans and gender diverse people don’t feel safe on the street, and 32% don’t feel safe on public transport. #Fact: transgender people can face up to 50 to 60 instances of micro-aggression (casual discrimination) a day—which takes a huge psychological toll.
So, we have asked ourselves, like so many other community organizations have, what can we do? Well, the answer is two-fold: (1) We are committed to using our growing platform to not only join the fight against the oppression of our trans brothers and sisters, but we must also use our platform to (2) raise awareness and educate our own members and supporters about gender-neutral norms, safe spaces, and inclusivity.
Over the next year, we are pledging to continue the social activism that we began in 2017 by:
using our speaking engagements as an opportunity to advocate for our transgender community members
providing a series of workshops for our members that range from gender-neutral terms and norms to inclusivity within our own organization, beginning with our Region 1 Regional Conference and our 2018 Walk for Brotherhood.
and creating meaningful opportunities to collaborate with like-minded local and national organizations, such as National Youth Pride Services.