I can’t continue to pretend there are two sides to a conversation about trans rights. This is the truth: I am scared to live out loud in the country I grew up in.
I was going to start with a personal story, an emotional plea to ask you to care about trans people. I have before when I transitioned out loud and online. But today I started and stopped writing a hundred times, digging deep to find something to put on display. To explain how it feels to live with a secret for 30 years.
It’s not as simple as one story. I don’t think most people understand what it feels like to live with fear when you’re doing simple things like going to the bathroom or the airport. I have to think about every little detail – what I wear, how I talk, how I smile. I am constantly adapting my behavior to appear more feminine so I can exist safely.
Being noticed is worse. In the bathroom, it’s the casual correction. “You’re in the wrong place,” these people tell me with pride as if they’re helping me out. I feel my heart rate rise. I stare down and walk faster holding in a stream of rage and tears. At the airport, it starts from the second I am going through TSA scanners. The questioning stares from the male and female agents. They’re not sure who should help me. These are just the experiences I had in the last week. Add in the element of a van and wandering into rural areas and the fear factor rises.
All that seems so simple in contrast to the list of consequences for being trans that are slowly becoming protected by law. A list that is getting longer every day – everything from jail time for using the bathroom at the same time as a minor to losing access to healthcare and worst of all, making hate crimes legal.
I think we can all agree there are so many bigger problems to solve in this country that impact all of us: broad access to affordable housing, food, education, and healthcare to name a few. My life and medical care as a trans person – both of which I pay for – simply aren’t a topic that should have ever come up for political debate.
I am my niece’s favorite Aunt, a two year old’s favorite work buddy, and every dog’s favorite human. I think some of you are even fans of me. But to these people, I’m a nameless threat. They are legislating my living and putting my safety on the line, creating two sides when my rights are on the line.
Will you fight it so I can stop being scared to live out loud?
Looking for more information on what you can do to support the trans community?
- Education is resistance. I offer training on pronouns in the workplace.
- Want to make LGBT+ people feel safe at work? Use gender neutral language first. Sir and Ma’am aren’t polite when you’re misgendering someone. Read more.
- What we do next has to add up to more than pronouns in an email signature. Read more.
- What should corporations be doing to combat legislative measures that seek to restrict the visibility of LGBTQIA individuals, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law? Read more.
- Creating safe spaces for trans employees isn’t just about writing policy that is inclusive. Read more.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.