Trans people, as well as lesbians, gays and bisexuals, are often criticized for comparing our struggle for equal rights to the Civil Rights Struggle of the ’50’s and ’60’s. I myself did so on this years’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, pointing out Dr. King’s own condemnation of incrementalism as a viable strategy for securing equal rights. I recognize there are many differences between that struggle and our own, but, if nothing else, it provides us with inspiration and the knowledge that, in the end, justice can and does win out. Thus, I was pleased this morning to read that Michelle Obama invoked the Civil Rights Struggle during a speech yesterday before the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee, just days before the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots between trans people, gays and lesbians and the New York police. Here’s what she had to say:
These anniversaries [of the Stonewall riot and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas] remind us that no matter who we are, or where we come from, or what we look like, we are only here because of the brave efforts of those who came before us. We are all only here because of those who marched and bled and died, from Selma to Stonewall, in the pursuit of a more perfect union.
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[T]he world as it should be rejects discrimination of all kinds.
Indeed, we build on the advances gained by all those who have gone before us, from Martin Luther King to Mahatma Gandhi to Sylvia Rivera. I give my thanks and do my best to honor them and the far too many trans women and men who have been murdered because of who they are by striving every day to advance the cause of justice for all.
UPDATED 6/29/08 to change the link to Michelle Obama’s speech to a report on Bilerico that includes the entire text, added the sentence at the beginning of the first paragraph of the quotation and corrected the last sentence of the quotation.