Donna Rose

2009: The Year of Trans

Filed By Donna Rose | January 06, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gender fluid, gender identity, predictions, transgender, transsexual

The beginning of a New Year always seems to be a time of predictions. It's a time when people try to guess what's going to happen over the next 365 days so they can look back at the end of the year to see how right (or wrong) they are. These predictions are often little more than educated guesses and can sometimes seem so outlandish as to be laughable. Still, I think these things sometimes have value.

With that in mind, here's my prediction: 2009 will be the Year of Trans. It will be a year when transpeople are no longer simply be knocking at the door, asking to come through it. Instead, it will be a year when our voices and our energies will emerge full-force to take our rightful place as full partners in Equality. It will be a year when we take major strides to escape the shackles of our traditional role as sorry stepchildren to our GLB brothers and sisters, as freakish curiosities, or as noisy pests. It will be a breakout year unlike any other we've experienced - a year many of us have spent a lifetime to achieve.

It's not as though this surge in presence is a sudden shift. Events have been leading to this point for quite a while. Our visibility socially, in the media, in politics, in schools, in places of worship, in workplaces, and simply as neighbors, friends, and co-workers has been helping to bring our stories and experiences to the forefront for quite a while. But each movement comes to a Tipping Point where it either bursts forward or retreats. I believe that the Tipping Point of the Trans community is happening now.

The signs are all there. The American Medical Association made a significant statement about the nature of trans wellness in July of last year - the full impact has not been felt yet. Corporations are continuing to further workplace policies and benefits to address the needs of their trans employees - that is about to shift gears again as more and more companies remove barriers to wellness care. Mainstream media is beginning to include trans people and characters in roles other than as a victim, a stripper, or a joke - that will continue. Community response to the cast of characters who have been named to update GID in the DSM-V has been unprecedented. Efforts to take away rights that have been granted have been successfully beaten back. After the jolt that ENDA provided in late 2007, last year was a significant one for us. 2009 will be even bigger.

I suppose I should admit that I purposely didn't use the label "Transgender". It's not that I'm uncomfortable with it - that's not it at all. It's just that the typical meaning of that word doesn't really include the broader spectrum of people whose gender-fluid nature might not conform to typical gender stereotypes. There are hundreds of different labels that people use to describe themselves and their unique sense of their gender. Transgender often doesn't really encompass all that so for the purposes of this post know that I'm referring to the broader spectrum of Trans people. We are indeed a community of communities.

While I'm making predictions, here are a few more:

  • Who could have imagined even 5 years ago a Federal Hate Crimes law that covered gender identity? That will become a reality.
  • There will be several high-profile trans "outing" stories in 2009. The most significant of these will be when a very visible, successful, respected Hollywood-type personality comes out as trans. It will be shocking to many but it will force people to confront questions they rarely if ever ask themselves.
  • Many of us are working to ensure that there will be one and only one version of ENDA next time around, and that version will be fully-inclusive. I expect that the hard work will pay off.
  • I predict that we will hear the President of the United States actually say the word "transgender" (or some synonym for it) publicly more than once. He will use it on its own - not as simply the last part of GLBT. That will be a big deal.

Of course, predictions are easy to make because you never know what's going to happen and whether they come true or not is often little more than luck. Even if absolutely nothing I've said here comes true in 2009 as more of us come to the forefront our day is coming. I expect to be right on all of these predictions. The only thing that might be off is the timing.

As we continue to push the envelope and more and more of us get involved in general "life" things we'll continue to see things change. We'll continue to see pride replace feelings of shame, guilt and fear as we go about our lives. We'll continue to see recognition of the unique challenges many of us face. And we'll continue to gain friends and allies in this struggle who accept us as valued peers, not as expendable liabilities.

I'm not trying to diminish other significant events that may happen this year. We are living in a time of significant opportunity and many of us have high hopes so there's no need to argue about what's the biggest. However, I'm not willing to admit that our continued emergence as whole, sane, contributing members of society is any less important than anything else.

Changing culture, and that's what we're fundamentally talking about here, takes time. Barriers and prejudices built over generations do not come crashing down in a day. It's a gradual change that happens brick by brick. It's filled with stops and starts, spurts and crashes, victories and defeats. It is a journey fueled by passion, energy, and dedication. Looking at our progress it's not hard to predict that 2009 will be a big year in this journey. It is truly an amazing time to be alive.

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Great post, Donna. If there's anything we can do to help make this the Year of Trans, let us know!

I don't know that I would predict it to be the "Year of Trans" just yet. True, there has been a groundswell regarding trans rights in the U.S. (we haven't been able to convert that into enough momentum to establish a national org in Canada yet), but by far most of that groundswell has been within the GLBT community, and could potentially be dwarfed now by the marriage issue (which rightly should concern us as well, but isn't the top of our needs / agenda just yet).

If it's to be the Year of Trans, it won't just happen. We have to keep working to make it happen.

Well, I will make my own prediction, which I expect will be more accurate than yours; crimes against transpeople will continue, and a majority of murderers will get off with a slap on the wrist due to the prevalence of the trans-panic defense.
(OMG I didn't know she had a dick, even though I had sex with her multiple times!)

Whose prediction do you think is more likely to come to pass?

I know people who have served more time for killing a dog, than those who have killed a

As far as the part of the trans community that Angela, myself and rest of the board of TAVA are concerned with, we predict that there will be a major shift in how the VA treats transgender veterans. There will also be some minor progress in getting the military to accept openly trans people in their ranks, but it will not be an issue to even discuss until DADT is repealed.

"Year of the Trans?" Is this a new addition to the Chinese calendar?

Everyday Transperson | January 6, 2009 3:52 PM

"Instead, it will be a year when our voices and our energies will emerge full-force to take our rightful place as full partners in Equality."

Yes, well let's make sure that the voices which are heard in 2009 are INCLUSIVE of EVERYONE in the trans community and not just those in the trans elitist "consultant"/"activist" circle who agree with the corporate status quo model while others get discriminated against, attacked or discounted, as has been the case for the past two years without any change or tangible results !!!

I would kindly remind you that you do not speak for ALL transgender people in the country. Sorry I forgot,

"They don't get a vote"

...... a famous quote from a well known "esteemed" figure in the trans community.

Thank you for your time.

Angela Brightfeather | January 6, 2009 3:54 PM

"It will be a breakout year unlike any other we've experienced - a year many of us have spent a lifetime to achieve."


As one of the "many of us" who has been looking for breakthroughs for over 40 years now, I certainly hope that your predictions, all of them, are correct. But I have been looking in my crystal ball and come up with a few that you have touched on or may have missed.

The marriage issue overshadowing all other issues will be a new battlefront for Trans people. A reshuffling of priorities is taking place in 2009 that will be led by HRC and Barney Frank that puts ENDA on the back burner. They will try to downplay it's importance in the gendeal scheme of things because GLB's don't have as much problem with employment any longer as do Trans people. The marriage fight has more visibility and helps to raise more funds for some people's pockets. I don't see ENDA happening until 2010, when Obama starts to really want that second term and before it becomes a "to liberal" brick for the religious right to throw and old news. Timing is going to mean everything.

I also see a year of possible complacency in the Trans community based on predictions of eventual success. It's going to be up to Trans leaders to keep the pressure on and to inspire our people to continue their activism at an even higher and stronger rate this year. We cannot let down our guard when we have ficticious Congressional polls that have been used against us or fabricated surveys of GLBT people that say we should wait for our rights.
They were simple to produce then and I predict they will be used again to try and reset priorities.

I also see gains in areas for our Trans Veterans, when the VA makes a public statement that no Veteran will be denied medical needs based upon their being Transgender. I also see a revamping of the VA regulations to upgrade the wording and description of Trans people and their needs. And lastly in that area, I see a large group of Trans Veterans taking a visible and overdue march down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Veteran's Day Parade with all the other hero's and heroin's who have served our country.

I predict that we have not heard the end of our inclusion in the DSM-V battle and that due to the professional and political liability of declaring us mentally capable human beings, the APA will continue to list us as having "special needs", just to cover their collective behinds and so as not to lose the copious sums of money that we pay them to be our gatekeepers to better healthcare and transtion needs.

I also see a new professional employment opportunity for Trans people in the field of fledgeling educational businesses for other people who wish to understand the "Transgender Phenomenon". The difference between the last 40 years and 2009 will be that Trans Educators will start to ask to be paid for their efforts.

I see a lessening of national lobbying and more of an emphasis on lobbying members of Congress at home, due to the increased costs of having to travel and fewer people having the funds to make the trips to DC. This may be the best thing that ever happened to us though. Lets relish this change.

Along with that last prediction, I also see a drop in attendance at Trans conventions and gatherings that are to costly. I see conventions like SCC who will prevail due to the large number of scholarships they grant to help defray costs for people. But other events will suffer attendance.

Since I have already heard Obama say Transgender in and of itself in one of his stump speeches, I'm not going to count your prediction on that. But I side with all the way on hoping that we see it happen a lot more in the future. I also note that it has become conspicuously absent since after the election and he now is heard saying Gay and Lesbian most of the time and leaving out Bi and Trans all together.

I predict that this year will be the beginning of some recognition for the activists who have been working for years in our community, with the beginning of a new website, similar to the TDOR site, but that is dedicated to the accomplishments of the Trans activists who have carried the torch to this point and beyond.

Lastly, I predict that more people will get the most important message of all and will stand with us as we stand with them for Human Rights. That message is simply that lives are at stake and being Transgende is a matter of "life or death" for many people.

Some good and some bad. In the long run, that is usually the way it goes. But generlly I see 2010 as the year that we really stand the chance of passing successful legislation for the Trans Community that will bring consumate changes and this year as providing the solid platform for that success.

In any event Donna, lets keep on working to make all our predictions come true.

I predict that this year will be the beginning of some recognition for the activists who have been working for years in our community, with the beginning of a new website, similar to the TDOR site, but that is dedicated to the accomplishments of the Trans activists who have carried the torch to this point and beyond.

In discussions about TDoR, it has come up locally that the community also could stand to have a positive event, a "celebration of lives," per se. This would be not just for activists (it would be a telling of trans stories, anoonymous or not, and also noting successful and out transfolks, etc.), but it would be an excellent opportunity to bestow recognition for the work they've done.


We'll start with you. You deserve it.

I'm assuming you meant that for Donna. All I've accomplished is to fail to rally enough support to organize on both a Provincial and Federal level.

Chris Daley | January 6, 2009 11:03 PM

Mercedes -

The San Diego Transgender Community has been doing a Transgender Day of Empowerment as a six month bookend to the Day of Rememberance for years. It's a really fantastic event and one that should be (and may already have been) adopted by other communities.

Here is an article from 2006:


Chris, thanks for telling us about it. The Transgender Day of Enpowerment sounds like a good counterpoint to the Day of Remembrance.

Here is a rather lengthy write-up of the 2007 event. (But you will need to scroll past a lot of photos to get to the text.)

Many states do not have ENDA for gays and lesbians. Some transpersons are married before transition and wish to remain married to that spouse after transition. So, both ENDA and marriage are important to GLB and to T (not to mention Q and I).

I tend to see inclusive ("gender identity and expression" language) ENDA as most important to all LGBTQI, as of most practical importance to most LBGTQI (especially because access to health care has been tied to employment status). Inclusive ENDA also ought to be achieveable relative to other LGBTQI issues. This is an issue which can be presented easily as a pure fairness issue, and wrapped in the American flag.

The transgender community has had same-sex couples three decades or more before same-sex couples could get married any place in the US.

Donna Rose seems to be an intelligent person and aware of what is happening, so I assume that she chose to make her article optimistic by dwelling on possible positive trends. The article is a nice change from all of the negative reality many of us currently experience.

Increased visibility and awareness in society can make some of us more vulnerable to those who hate. Each success of ours will increase organizations that oppose us to work harder and create even more fantastic lies to negate and reverse any gains we make. If we are willing to persevere and make sacrifices when necessary, hopefully Truth and the Better Nature of Humanity will win, and so will we. Maybe. Perhaps. I plan to keep my guns.

Another issue I discerned in her article [sigh]: Just two months ago, when I mentioned The Transgender Day of Remembrance, I was admonished for saying "transgender" and told that "transgendered person" was the politically correct term to use. Is it "trans" now? Any idea what term I should use two months from now?

If LGBT websites would install automatic "Politically Correct Word & Phrase Substitution" filters, then they could prevent my submissions from offending other readers' sensibilities and tell me what I should really be saying.

No two people seem to define things the same. I use "trans" and "transgender" almost interchangeably, while some in the area here use "trans" as sort of a distinguishing between what they consider "real" transsexuals and everyone else.

There really isn't a consensus anywhere. I just try to respect the terms people use for themselves when I'm aware of them, except to the extent of those times in which I am told that in order to respect their terminology, I have to stop using said terms for myself.

I try to make it a point to tell non-trans people to avoid putting "ed" after the word "transgender." It denotes us as being nothing more than a thing rather than a person. You don't hear the "gayed" or the "lesbianed." Making "transgender" an adjective would be more appropiate. I like, "Transgender American." "Gay American, Lesbian American and Bisexual American" or even "Queer American" should also be used more often.

The English language is the most dynamic language in history. Words are added and subtracted constantly. Combining words to get different meanings is so easy, so it is not confine to what scholars tells us what to use. The masses change it so quickly that the scholars can't keep up. It is such a fun language to play in and with.

I've got a few predictions too, but mine aren't quite as positive as yours, Donna.

1. As we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, constitutional scholar and professor President Barack Obama will speak in celebration of that decision but he and Congress will continue to promote "separate but equal" as a perfectly valid position to take in regards to the rights and fair treatment of LGBT Americans.

2. Congress, as always, will continue finding reasons to avoid or delay indefinitely doing the right thing by their LGBT constituents. The reasons will be different perhaps, but the end results will be the same as always.

3. As Barack Obama continues to prioritize bipartisan consensus over principle, the right-wing will become more emboldened and demanding in promoting their agenda in DC. These efforts will of course attack the rights of LGBT Americans most directly, but Obama and Congress will be too wrapped up in trying to create one big happy bipartisan family on the Hill to actually do anything about it.

Honestly I wish I could believe otherwise, but in order to do so I'd have to ignore the clear evidence we've all already seen. As with Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, and all the rest, I'll believe in positive change for LGBT Americans in an Obama Administration when I actually see it happen, because as far as I'm concerned all of these people have willingly given up the right to the benefit of the doubt.

I am with you all the way Donna. You know I am trying to get the word out. I am starting a support group for Transgendered people this month. We are going to do 3 things. 1. provide support for each other. 2. Make ourselves available to give factual information to legislators, judges, police, etc. and 3. raise money for women who have chemo to buy them wigs and for women who have had masectomies to get them breast forms. I feel if we go out in the public as concerned women for women we can do a lot of good for women out there and the Trans community.

Luv you Donna, you are my mentor!

Kathleen OBrien MSW.