The proposed bill in Arizona that would allow businesses to deny restroom entry to anyone suspected of being transgender -- or if they just don't like how masculine or feminine you are -- is yet another illustration of how important it is for the gay, lesbian and bisexual community to stand in solidarity with our transgender brothers and sisters.
While many of us are consumed with winning marriage equality, transgender and gender-nonconforming Arizonians are facing state-sanctioned discrimination just for entering the restroom. Lawmakers there are blatantly encouraging everyday folks to harass and discriminate against anyone they believe isn't masculine or feminine enough.
People of color in Arizona already live under constant threat of being asked for their identification because of anti-immigrant "papers, please" laws, which create a hostile climate for anyone suspected of being an immigrant.
Imagine how another layer of increased scrutiny could affect the already disgustingly high rates of violence, murder and suicide among transgender women of color. The LGB community can relate to these statistics because we too face higher rates of harassment, murder and suicide, often for the same reason: not conforming to rigid gender roles.
There are still people who don't understand why we include the "T" in our acronym. I still hear people say that trans rights have nothing to do with being gay, or, worse, that we'd be better off dropping the "T" altogether. As a gender-nonconforming person, and as someone who's had transgender friends fighting at my side since the moment I got involved with the movement for equality, this makes me incredibly sad.
We queers have always been at the forefront of breaking through the rigid, binary gender norms enforced by a system designed to keep everyone except masculine, white men from experiencing liberation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) understood this when they ruled last year that employers cannot discriminate based on a person's gender identity or gender expression. They were wise enough to extend those vital federal protections to anyone who might be unconventionally butch or femme.
Despite the extraordinary barriers that transgender people face, the community has continuously shown resilience and has supported, championed and worked hand-in-hand with their LGB comrades. From Stonewall to the Prop 8 marches, trans people have been there fighting for our freedom.
As the marriage movement reaches a peak, it's more important than ever to remind ourselves that marriage is not and will never be full equality for all. It's time for all of us to stand with our transgender family so that all of us can experience safety, equality and freedom.
Besides, there is already a gorgeously powerful bridge between gay and transgender communities. Her name is Cher.