Notes from (Interim) Executive Director
The events of the last two weeks have taught the Center many things. The first thing we've learned is to listen. We've learned that being part of the LGBTQ community does not automatically confer an understanding of the entire community.
We held a Trans Town Hall so we could hear directly from the trans community. We listened to their voices and we heard them clearly tell the Center that the phrase Mister Sister is a slur and does not create a sense of safety or welcome. We heard them tell us how painful it would be for them to walk by a business with that name every day. These voices are not coming from a fringe element of the trans community: these are support group facilitators, parents of trans children, and trans community members and allies of all different ages and experiences.
We've heard from other voices that say the phrase is one of affection and the name is not intended to hurt. We have heard that it was the intention to create a space for all of the LGBTQ community to use and feel welcome regardless of the name, and that any business owner is free to use whatever name they choose.
Here is what we have learned: this is no longer about the name of a bar but about something much larger and very alarming. Much of the early discussions got very heated very quickly, often devolving into personal attacks. In recent days, fake Twitter accounts have been created, URLs that are close to the Pride Center of VT URL have been purchased and used to redirect folks away from the actual PCVT web site and there have been heated debates including hate speech on social media. These attacks have gone in both directions and these things have no place in this discourse.
This is about the LGBTQ movement. This is about trans parents who want the best for their children. This is about trans people in our local community saying that they don't feel safe, represented or supported. It's not about the name of a bar - it's about the hurt that trans people are experiencing in being told they do not matter enough to be heard. It's about what makes an ally and who needs them most in this moment.
When allies of the bar stop supporting the Center because what we have said on this topic, what trans folks see is that when their lives are defended by the Center, people take resources away.
This whole issue is about trans liberation. This is about saying to our entire community, we must embrace our trans community and stand with them against all of the oppression that is being thrown at them from so many directions, much of it from the Federal government.
In the last two weeks we've seen the Justice and Education departments rescind the Title IX guidance on schools and bathroom usage for trans students. On Monday, the Supreme Court vacated the Gavin Grimm case that would have had the Court decide definitively about transgender students and their right to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, not the gender they were assigned at birth. These very real attacks on the trans community are eroding the rights the trans community has fought hard to win.
Our entire community faces broad attacks that threaten all of the progress we've made. Now is the time for all of us to work together to ensure all of our rights are protected. We must fight together, for the rights that are being taken away. We are a diverse community with many different viewpoints but we have to remember that we have all been and continue to be a marginalized minority. We have all experienced different levels of oppression and marginalization and it is our responsibility to support the most vulnerable, oppressed and marginalized among us. It is time for us to come together and work against the very real, potentially devastating challenges the LGBTQ community faces. It is time for our community to begin to heal after the very divisive period we have just gone through. We are stronger together.