Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Queer Lives Lost: When Will Safety Be The Priority?

by Ty Leisey
Originally published: June 27, 2016

Like so many others, I mourned the loss of 49 queer, Latinx lives and the harm caused to over 50 others at the gay club Pulse in Orlando, Florida this month. There are no words to express the grief, anger, sadness, rage, fear and anxiety that I have felt since. This community was targeted in part because of a piece or pieces of their identity, pieces I share as a transgender individual, and in queer fashion, I mourn for family I never got the chance to know.

But alongside my grief, it’s important to recognize that I’m not of the community that was most directly impacted. The gunman targeted Pulse on Latin night; most who lost their lives were Latinx people of color—many of them were of Puerto Rican descent. Even within the queer community I have privilege. My whiteness and perceived maleness keep me safe(ish) when I’m walking down the street or interacting with a stranger in public, but neither keeps me safe at pride parades, in gay clubs or any club where my legal ID is necessary, or in public restrooms, restaurants or the workplace, depending on which U.S. state I’m in. As of March of this year, I can still legally be fired in 21 states for no other reason than I’m a transgender individual.