As a cis lesbian, I have always been very clear that I do not want to be a part of a queer community that is not progressive. This means that our communities need to make space for all of us: Trans, lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, pan, asexual, intersex and any other gender or sexual minority.
Thus, in conversation with a non-binary queer Ethiopian, I was saddned by the way that the Ethiopian queer community collectively fails to make space for trans, non-binary and gender non-confirming people.
“Heteronormative ideals are being upheld by the same people who are queer. And that’s disheartening a little bit because you think, oh, we are the same. You see me, I see you and we’re accepting of who we are,” they said.
They further explained how “even within the queer Habesha community, I’m seeing that people are not there yet in terms of gender fluidity and transcending the gender binary”.
In the simplist of ways, they articulated why trans rights and trans inclusion matter: “I know that queer and trans Ethiopian people exist, right? We are not just men and women”.
It is a reminder that we need to fight for trans visibility and trans rights because our queer community incudes everyone. Sadly, some of us are not able to create that space and fail to see what connects us as a community. We fail to understand that welcoming everyone as they are is mandatory to being accepted ourselves. We forget that standing up for eachother is the only way of bringing about lasting change for all of us. Some of us treat trans issues as a secondary concern in the movement as if we are only capable of tackling one issue at a time. We have to make room for all identities because it is the totality of our experiences that make us a better, a stronger and a more progressive community.
Transgender Day of Visibility matters to all of us. It is a day that reminds us of the strength, determination and resilience of trans people. And it is a day that we should use to dedicate or rededicate ourselves to standing with trans, non-binary and gender non-confirming people.