There's something brewing in the trans community, and I think I like it. It has long been a question as to whether the transgender community really constitutes a "community", as commonly understood to mean a coherent group with common interests. Helen Boyd blogged yesterday about the Trans for Obama fundraiser; it was an amazing, amazing effort for a marginalized community, and I think it deserves further study.
Helen, a well-regarded transgender activist, put a post on her blog Sunday night at 9:15pm, calling for a "Trans for Obama Blog" day the next day, Monday. She suggested that bloggers publicize a transgender community and allies website for contributions to Sen. Obama's presidential campaign (via the National Stonewall Democrats' ActBlue web presence). Given the poverty, underemployment and marginalization of so many trans people, I would not have expected much of a response.
By the end of the next day, however, more than 100 people had donated over $6,000, for a total of over 200 contributions and more than $12,000 in donations. Contributors and contributions are still coming in. It's not the most money in the world, but from a marginalized community, it's a huge amount of contributors and contributions. What has happened to the "Shh!-be-quiet-or-they'll-hear-us!" transgender community I've been used to for the last decade?
How the Transgender Community Raised $12K for Obama
Here's what Helen wrote Sunday night:
The National Stonewall Democrats have a page for trans people + allies to donate to Barack Obama's campaign, which is a damned cool idea. Before this campaign started, over 105 people donated $5400, which is damned cool too. But if we really want to make ourselves visible - even in a small way - we should try to get that number - and the amount of participants - higher. So if you're trans, or a trans ally, & support Barack Obama financially, do consider donating to his campaign through the site.
& Then tell two friends, so they tell two friends... by the end of the day we can easily surpass a couple of people on ActBlue's list of top online donors. Post the info on your personal blog - on Yahoo 360, or LJ, or Facebook, or to a community message boards you post on.
I've started a Trans for Obama event on Facebook, too.
Unbelievable - she just asked for the money? And they gave?
Helen Boyd is a virtual transgender media empire, with her blog, (en)Gender, "a journal of gender and trans issues," her well-regarded books, "My Husband Betty," and "She's Not The Man I Married", her "My Husband Betty message boards and her Trans Group Blog. Plus, she's an all-around interesting, intelligent and beautiful woman who's not afraid to speak up. But still, I wasn't expecting much.
The Troops Arrive
Then blogger Caprice Bellefleur chimed in at Caprice's Glob ("not just for the dyslexic") around midnight. Helen describes Caprice as follows:
Caprice, who is one of the people who set up the campaign with the National Stonewall Democrats, has posted about Trans for Obama Day as well, adding her arguments about why McCain/Palin would be a disaster for LGBT people and why Obama needs all the small donors he can get.
So I'd like to take this moment to thank Caprice, who does more for the LGBT community than just about anyone I know, by being on boards and contacting politicians, taking regular trips to Albany for NYS concerns, and by working with the Name Change Project at the Center.
Then, a few minutes later, the well-known author Kate Bornstein posted on her blog, Kate Bornstein's Blog for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws. Then we had Andrea James (of LOGO's TransAmerican Love Story and Casting Pearls fame) speaking up on her blog: Andrea James: Shared Experiences. At this point, 23 people had donated $780. Then Lena Dahlstrom at A Dahl's House ("A guy who's also the girl next door") weighed in. 142 people and $9020.
The blogs kepts coming the next day. Leith ("crazy trans witch bitch trying to get by as best she can") over at "being T - The Riftgirl blog" chimed in, with a Sarah Palin imitation and an offer she couldn't refuse. (I can't describe it on a family-friendly channel like Bilerico - go there and see for yourself.) There was Annie Rushden at Gardens in Bloom, and me over at Transgender Workplace Diversity and the Transgender Workplace Diversity Resource Network.
Then, in the afternoon, Helen posted on Feministing, and there were posts from Angie at Dakota Women and Autumn Sandeen at Pam's House Blend. Monica Helms at TransUniverse also climbed on the bandwagon. Followed by Coming Out Trans, Laura Calvo of Oregon's Stonewall Democrats, Betty at Daily Kos.
The day ended with 196 donors and $10,746. That's a net of 91 donors and $5346 for Obama's campaign. "We did good!" crowed Helen.
But it didn't end there.
Trans for Obama: The Sequel
Although the blogging campaign had been set for a single day, it carried on. By 34 minutes after midnight, there were 200 contributors.
The next day, more blogs came into the campaign, including Just Out, TransCendence, and Not a Well-Behaved Woman.
The Transgender Community and Allies contributions page climbed to 7th from the top in Act Blue's list of contributors. The contributors and the contributions keep rolling in. Here's where we are now:
They're talking about making it a Trans for Obama Blogging Week.
This marks a sea change, to my mind, in the transgender community. I've never seen this level of participation before. The only exception in my experience happened two weeks ago. I started a resource network for transgender workplace diversity issues on Sunday evening, September 14, on a whim after being referred to ning.com. By the end of the evening, there were almost three dozen members. Two weeks later, we have 265 members. (You're invited to join, by the way, at transworkplace.ning.com, if you're interested in transgender workplace issues. We have HR managers, diversity professionals, trans employees and allies, and invite anyone who wants to learn more about these issues.)
There's something brewing in the trans community, and I like it. In the past, we've often been afraid to stand up and be counted. We've wondered what we have in common with people with different transgender identities. We've openly questioned whether there is a transgender "community."
I'm for standing up and being counted as a community.
Should I Contribute to the Transgender Community and Allies fund for Sen. Obama?
Yes, you should. If you are one of the people in the LGBT community who feel very strongly that gender identity and expression should be included in legislative protections alongside sexual orientation, you should go to http://www.actblue.com/page/trans.
Over 300 organizations and thousands of community members stood up and demanded that transgender people be included in ENDA. That wasn't enough to make it so. Here is a chance to show the power of this issue at http://www.actblue.com/page/trans.
If you want Washington to give to the transgender community and its allies, then the transgender community and its allies must give Washingtons (George Washington, that is, as he appears on the face of the dollar bill) at http://www.actblue.com/page/trans.
While transgender workplace diversity issues are not inherently tied to any political ideology, it is clear that Barack Obama is supportive of transgender workplace rights and that John McCain is not supportive of transgender workplace rights.
The transgender community and its allies have a voice and political influence, and the blogging community is working on exercising these. And it's working. In the past, transgender bloggers have been disparaged by some of our political leaders as dreamers who talk only to each other and do nothing in reality to support legislation and political leaders. Here is a chance to show that the transgender community and its allies do support political leaders at http://www.actblue.com/page/trans.
On a professor's salary, I can hardly afford to support presidential campaigns (or Wall Street bailouts), but I also know that failure to support will cost me far more in the long run. Furthermore, as a group, if we each give even a $5 donation, that will amount to thousands of dollars. It's asking a lot to ask you to shell out at a time of national financial crisis, but good leadership will make a difference for you and for all of us.
We have just won a major legal victory in the employment case brought against the Library of Congress. The momentum gained from this decision will help Congress begin to understand the importance of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for transgender and gay people. Donating to help usher in a new era of more progressive leaders is another way to make trans-inclusion a reality.
I ask you to donate also to show that the transgender community is alive and well, and that there are many of us out there who are willing to stand up and be counted. It is easy to read this and do nothing, feeling that nothing will make a difference. I know that what I am asking takes courage and willingness to go beyond the feelings of helplessness that have been drummed into us by our national leaders. Please join me in standing up and being counted. Just click on this link: http://www.actblue.com/page/trans
Thank you for being willing to make a difference for our community.
Go to the website for the Transgender Community and Allies fund for Senator Obama's campaign. There, you can check how many supporters and contributions have been added. There is also a "Contribute" button next to the thermometer. Let's go for 300 contributors! (You can give any amount. Brother, can you spare a