Over the course of a mere two weeks, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to add my voice on the Huffington Post website: as a new blogger in their “Gay Voices” section, and as a guest panelist on “Huff Post Live.”
For the former, I was asked by my colleagues at PFLAG to write a piece about what the importance of trans allies means to me, especially as it pertained to my decision to come out at work a few years ago. Today, as it was then for me, the importance of allies – those individuals that advocate for and support members of a community other than their own – cannot be overstated. You can read the entire blog by clicking here.
The producers of Huff Post Live asked me to share, once again, my experiences raising my son in a segment about being a parent who also happens to be trans. The episode, which included other trans parents, provided a rich array of experiences that I hope you find engaging and informative.
As a special guest of the United States Embassy, Stephanie’s appearances during Capital Pride garnered quite a bit of coverage by the local Ottawa media outlets. Of particular note was her Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) appearance with host Amanda Pfeffer on the show “Ottawa Morning.”
She spoke with Amanda about her workplace transition story, as well as what it was like coming out to her son and to her family – all of which played a critical role in the timing and the pace of her transition. They are important considerations to keep prominently in mind for both transgender individuals and their employers.
Click on the following link to listen: http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/ID/2493186367/
Prior to her Free to Learn Lecture Series keynote, Stephanie sat down with Julie Cruikshank of the Daily Xtra, the leading LGBT newspaper in Ottawa, along with fellow U.S. activist Cason Crane, to discuss the current state of affairs with the LGBT movement in the United States and with transgender rights in particular.
You can read the full story here: http://dailyxtra.com/ottawa/news/united-states-embassy-takes-active-role-in-capital-pride
The Metro Ottawa newspaper prominently featured Stephanie in a number of stories during Pride week, one of which featured her views on the Canadian trans-rights movement and that of its sister movement in the United States in advance of her keynote address at the Free to Learn Lecture series.
The full article can be found by clicking here: http://metronews.ca/news/ottawa/1123745/u-s-a-decade-behind-canada-on-lgbt-rights/
I am deeply honored to be representing the United States as a Special Guest of the U.S. Embassy and United States Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman at this year’s Capital Pride. On Wednesday, August 20th at 5:00 PM I will be delivering the keynote speech at the Free to Learn + GLBT Conference. My talk, entitled “Free to Love . . . Free to Live!” plays off of this year’s festival theme and will feature my thoughts about the issues and challenges facing the transgender communities of Canada and the United States.
For more information please visit the official website of Capital Pride: http://capitalpride.ca/free-to-learn-glbt-conference-link-page/
In addition to this, I will also be speaking at the Human Rights Vigil at 8:00 PM on Thursday, August 21st. The Human Rights Vigil is an annual festival event that focuses on the LGBT human rights movement around the world, and is regularly attended by 100 members of the community, including members of Ottawa City Council and the Mayor, City of Ottawa community leaders, and members of the LGBT and allied communities. It will be held at the Human Rights Monument at the corner of Elgin and Lisgar in Ottawa and I will address the issue of transgender rights in the United States and around the world.
As part of my Pride Month engagements, PECO, the utility company for the greater Philadelphia region, along with their LGBT employee resource group PRIDE and their women’s employee resource group co-sponsored my talk “Life After Transition: Transgender Equality in the Workplace” which headlined their Voices of Diversity Pride Month event.
My sincere thanks to Mike Peabody, the co-chair of PRIDE and all the good folks at PECO who filled the room At the PECO Building in Center City Philadelphia, my adopted second home!
For more photos from the event, please visit my Facebook page.
As the month of June – Pride Month – comes to a close, I feel compelled to pause and reflect for a few moments on where the transgender community finds itself at this moment in its history. The setting for this missive is the beach at Asbury Park, New Jersey where I am taking a break from the blur of activities, events and speaking engagements that come along for the ride when the calendar turns to June. The warm sun and comfortable breeze make for a delightful afternoon where I can be alone with my thoughts. I am a part of a diverse mix of beachgoers on this day: gay, straight, families, young, and old peacefully coexist in a swirl of laughter, animated conversations, Frisbee and volleyball. That’s why I love coming here. I feel like I am part of a family of sorts. The new season, my favorite – summer, has arrived and everything in the world is in perfect alignment.
Ah, if it were only that simple! Depending on your particular point of view, you might agree with that perspective, or vehemently disagree with it. Put in the context of the equal rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, the world seems anything but perfect. While I will acknowledge with deep appreciation the recent strides the community has made: the pending executive order that provides protections for transgender workers with regard to contractors doing business with the federal government, Medicare providing coverage for transition-related healthcare and the Time magazine cover that featured the image of Laverne Cox along with the title “The Transgender Tipping Point – America’s next civil rights frontier.” Well, I’d say that we are making quite a splash – and good for us!
While I am genuinely thrilled by these developments – and how can one not feel just a bit giddy about the “air cover” that the Time coverage provides, I must cop to a more than mild sense of concern about what still must happen for transgender and gender non-conforming people to have a level playing field from which to live their lives. Vast differences remain between my community and the rest of society when it comes to housing, employment and healthcare. You may have seen the numbers, they are frightening, frankly, but what’s more frightening is there are many outside of our community that do not know. You can argue the point that they do not know because they choose not to hear. I have a different perspective: they do not know because they have yet to be reached by us.
That is why I do what I do. It begins with a very simple premise: Education. During this Pride Month I have seen first-hand what the power of education and simply telling your story can have on an audience. It’s about connecting with people on a very human level. It’s about changing hearts and changing minds. What I don’t know is what preconceived notions existed within each person as they enter the room to hear me speak. What I do know is that they left the auditorium with a much different view of what a transgender person is all about. About how human we are, and that we are, in so many respects, no different than they are. Yes, we have our own set of unique challenges, but we are no less human because of them.
How do I know this? Did I suddenly become telepathic? Not at all. I know this because they told me. They told me with their voices when they came to speak with me after I finished my program, and for others they told me with their eyes, their expressions and their smiles as I spoke. Education. It forms a foundation of Understanding. That, in turn, sows the seeds of Acceptance.
It’s about time a wider and brighter national spotlight has been cast on our community. For us to have our voices heard we must step out of the shadows and share our stories. They are so amazingly powerful. But before that can happen we must “own” who we are – individually and collectively. As I was once told by someone a long time ago, “you cannot expect others to accept you, without first accepting yourself.” The conversation must be broadened. The narrative must expand. Tipping point? I’ll buy that, but in my humble opinion it is up to the transgender and gender non-conforming communities to up our game and continue to advocate for what we intrinsically know are ours: our civil – and human – rights. We control our own destiny, we can shape our future, we possess the power to tip the scales in our favor by the power of our Authenticity.