Transgender Awareness WeekThis week is Transgender Awareness Week with Friday being Transgender Remembrance Day. So many people still don’t understand what it means to be transgender, gender non-conforming, gender fluid or gender queer. They see these beautiful humans as freaks and their fear and misunderstanding has led to violence resulting in at least 21 deaths this year so far. Most of those murdered were women of color.

HRC and Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), released a report detailing the violence facing transgender people. There is still a lot of educating of the public that needs to be done. And there needs to be protections for all transgender and gender-expressive people, no matter how they identify.

Part of what moved the LGB movement was people coming out. As more and more people in the LGBT community live honest and open lives, fewer people can say they don’t know anyone who is gay, lesbian or bisexual. Transgender people are coming out as never before. It will take time for that to have the same effect it has had on LGB rights. In the meantime, coming out and being out can be risky. Even here in San Francisco, there is violence against transgender people or those perceived to be transgender. Just today our newspaper reported of an attack, the second this year, on a transgender woman.

For those of us who are allies and advocates, we must stand up and speak out. We can be educators to those who innocently (or not so innocently) make negative remarks or misspeak when talking about the transgender community. We can stand up and speak out for safety, protection and fairness for young transgender kids in our schools, for adults who are facing discrimination in employment and housing. We can gently correct people when they use the wrong pronouns. We can donate to causes that are helping those in the transgender community.

We all have to do our part, whether we love someone transgender or not. It is not up to “them.” It is up to us, each one of us.