HOLLAND, Mich. — Thursday was the annual International Transgender Day of Visibility. The White House celebrated by inviting Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider to speak. Locally, Out on the Lakeshore held an open mic night where the members of the community spoke, sang and recited poetry about being trans in West Michigan.
“Trans people are people, just like anyone else,” said Jeffrey Sorenson, executive director of OOTL. “They feel, love and express themselves in much the same way that anyone else does. It’s just that they happen to be a gender they were not assigned at birth.”
The day, which began back in 2009, is all about honoring and celebrating the lives of trans people and the work that’s been done politically to recognize them as human beings, Sorensen said.
However, he said there’s much more work to do.
“The various bills and legislation going on throughout the country that are ultimately attacking [the community] are harming what it means to just live their lives,” Sorensen said during an interview with FOX 17 at the OOTL Community Center. “Not only are they taking away support but they’re opening the door to further violence against the trans community.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, of the 3,000,000 trans people who live in the U.S., 29 percent of trans adults face poverty and 54 percent experience some form of partner violence, along with harassment and discrimination.
Sorensen said the best way anyone can be an ally to trans people is to be mindful to recognize them as people.
“The most important thing is to let people be who they are,” Sorensen said. “Use their pronouns. Use the name that they ask you to use for them and just let them live their life. Continue to educate yourself on proper terminology and continue to support people as they are.”
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