A speech given by Sean-Michael Gettys at Caesar Chavez Plaza for Arizona's Celebration of the International Day of Trans* Visibility:This morning I woke from yet another restless night full of dreams about the people I love being strong, resilient human beings in the face of discrimination. And that is the nice way to put it. I also woke with some very specific words in mind, and I want to share those words with you here now. "We are All Allies in Training." Today as we stand here in Caesar Chavez Plaza, a space honoring migrant workers in the center of a city which does not, I ask you to listen with your hearts and minds wide open. To put aside any fear, misgivings or defensiveness you may feel, and to realize that we who speak to you today are somebody's sibling, child, spouse, loved one, coworker. We are human and fallible and in many ways, we are just like you.
|Let's Have a FeFe! (After Casa Grande Equality March 2013)|
|With Casey from Wingspan at Casa Grande Pride|
As someone who is often asked to speak about being Trans, I strive to include people with other barriers whenever possible. I try to find sign language interpreters, or to sign my speech if I can, to mention Trans people of color and the multiple barriers they sometimes face, to mention populations in our society who are further marginalized such as sex workers or people living on the streets. There are many things I "try" to do to be an ally for others.
|Fun with Friends and my Peace Full Creations (Knitting)|
I SINCERELY apologize if I ever make you feel less than or talked down to in my efforts to empower myself, I never want to dis-empower others. Sometimes my words may be unknown to you or confusing, and I welcome questions even if they are worded in ways that you fear may offend. Together we are stronger, and we need each other no matter who we are, or what barriers we face.
This has been a difficult month. When the Non Discrimination Ordinance was before the Phoenix Commission many of us heard hard stories from our community and some ignorant, some purely hateful words from those who would seek to prevent us from having the same basic safety and protection from discrimination that they walk through the world with on a daily basis. When many of our gay and lesbian friends celebrated, those of us who have been activists in the Trans* community for some time found ourselves torn. I can only speak for myself but I know that I felt a mixture of emotions. I was glad the Non Discrimination Ordinance passed, grateful that our allies had stood so strongly on our side and clearly insisted that Gender Identity and Expression be included so that ALL humans be protected, not just those who fit gender norms. At the same time, I was filled with a horrible sense of dread and not a little fear. I feared retaliation.
|Nix, Claire & Friend at AZ House of Reps, Fighting 1432|
|AZ House of Representatives Appropriations Committee|
|Lee, Momma Donna, at Rally day after SB1045 Hearing|
|Rev. Brad Wishon at AZ Trans* Day of Visibility|
|A Symbol of True Equality Is Inclusive|
Many of you have asked me what you can do about SB 1045. I do not have all the answers. But here are three things I would like every one here do, because we are ALL allies, not just those who are cisgender but also those of us who are allies to gender non conformists, people of color, the elderly, etc. I ask that you be honest, open, and kind. Please take the time to tell someone how you are doing and to ask how they are doing. Be honest about your own fears and the fact that you don't always know what you are doing. Be open to critique even if it is not always given in the kindest or most rational manner because even when things are poorly explained or shared, they hold a nugget of truth, and if we listen for that truth, we can grow and be better allies to each other. And be kind to yourself and others. We all are hurting in some way. Take time with and give care to yourself and others. Time to laugh, time to cry, time to scream and time to heal. We are in this together. And we need each other. Because we are *all* Allies in Training.
|A Graphic Free For Use to Celebrate Trans* Day of Visibility and Show Solidarity with Arizona re the #NoLoo4U Bill|