Celebrating Transgender Awareness Month

By Sunnivie Brydum, Guest Blogger

While October was officially LGBT History Month, this month we’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be dedicating November to raising awareness about transgender people. As we step into Transgender Awareness Month, we will highlight influential members of the statewide transgender community; share resources for trans people and their friends, family and allies; and focus on the importance of inclusion of the transgender community within the larger gay, lesbian, and bisexual community. Our goal is to inform, educate, and empower readers to understand, empathize with and become allies for trans people.

Watch this video to see Brad & Jess talk about what Transgender Awareness Month means and why it’s so important.

As Brad and Jess said, even within the larger LGBT community, there exists a great deal of confusion and ignorance around transgender people. We want to change that. We want to turn LGB people into allies for the transgender community. And the first step to doing that is explaining what it means to be transgender.

Generally speaking, a transgender person is someone whose preferred gender identity differs from that which they were assigned at birth. Most commonly, trans people identify as Male-to-Female (MTF) or Female-to-Male (FTM), the former gender referring to the person’s sex assigned at birth, and the latter referring to the gender with which the person feels comfortable and honest identifying. Transgender status alone does not mandate that someone has had or will have any type of sexual reassignment surgery, though most trans people tend to present to the outside world as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth.

Some transgender people explain this disconnect as feeling “stuck in the wrong body,” or as having a woman’s brain trapped in a man’s body, for example. This fundamental disconnect often causes extreme emotional, psychological and physical distress. For those who identify as cis-gendered (folks whose birth-assigned sex and gender presentation correspond), imagine removing your heart, mind and soul from your body and placing them into a body of someone of the opposite sex. You would feel foreign in your own skin, unable to demonstrate who you truly are to the outside world, which sees you as something completely different. Think through how this experience and these feelings would impact your life — building toward this shared understanding is where we begin the process of becoming a transgender ally.

This explanation of what it means to be transgender is just a start. In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to build on your understanding — and our own understanding — of what it means to be trans in Colorado. We’ll introduce you to several prominent, successful trans-identified people, whose stories and journeys are each unique and inspiring. We’ll take a look at myriad issues transgender people face — around access to health care, employment protections, basic civil rights and safety, and acceptance within the larger LGBT community. We’ll share resources and tools that partner organizations have developed to support trans people and their family, friends and allies. And lastly, we will pay homage to the lives that have been lost to transphobia, working to reconcile that violence and hatred with love, knowledge and acceptance.

It’s going to be an exciting November — we hope you’ll stick around.

Sunnivie Brydum is the Denver LGBT Issues Examiner and a guest blogger for One Colorado. An expanded version of this article is available on Examiner.com. You can also find Sunni on Facebook and Twitter, exploring and talking about her passion: the politics of equality.