Today, I was reminded of how many wonderful friends I have in Fargo. It has been a really difficult week for me, and today I was honored by being inducted into the NDSU Tapestry of Diverse Talents. To be honest, the events of this week and last had left me numb and upset and threatened to mar this special occasion. To my surprise, the day was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. It was one of the few instances when the accolades sung for me were written from the heart of a person whose good opinion I really value rather than from a bio I provided. I was struck by how rarely I hear good things said about me in a manner that did not seem disingenuous.
Moreover, so many friends and colleagues took time out of their busy schedule to be there with me. Transgender advocacy is largely a thankless and benefitless job. Often, I stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning working so that I can work toward both a PhD and a better world for all. Less than 15% of the work I do for the transgender community is remunerated. I am often forced to endure hateful words about me and about those I love, and nearly every interaction is tainted with the fear that I will be misgendered or discriminated against. Unlike the majority of people in this country, I have to daily reaffirm my value as a human being and my right to be treated with dignity and respect, and everyday I leave my house with the knowledge that I have a 1 in 12 chance of being brutally murdered and tossed in a dumpster. I face the ever-present threat of legislation which would erase my personhood and invalidate my experience. To add insult to injury, I often endure the pain of hearing people I care about and who claim to support me advocate (and vote for) politicians or political parties which initiate these bills, usually under the excuse of economics (since money is more important that human rights, my rights). In the last five years I have endured rejection by friends and family, homelessness, unemployment (and employment discrimination), received over 500 pieces of hate mail, four death threats, and have had horrible things published about me and said about me.