This primary election season seems to be particularly divisive within the LGBTQ community. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding myself weary of the mudslinging that continues to happen not only between Democrats and Republicans, but also among Clinton and Sanders supporters.
My friends, community members, and allies in the fight for LGBTQ equality come from both sides of this Democratic divide, and I’ve seen countless arguments erupt over topics that ultimately may prove unimportant when it comes down to the question of who will be the best president and who will be the biggest ally to the LGBTQ community. But in the midst of all this controversy, I was inspired by TransUnited, a new political nonprofit by and for transgender people, that’s asking candidates questions that really matter –– questions to which the trans and larger LGBTQIA community deserve answers.
TransUnited sent a questionnaire to the Sanders, Clinton and Trump campaigns earlier this month, asking candidates to comment on a variety of issues relevant to the transgender community. And while Sanders responded with lengthy answers, Trump and Clinton have remained silent, and she’s already being criticized by her own supporters. As a fan of Secretary Clinton’s work and as someone who has voiced my personal concerns about the Sanders campaign’s lack of racial inclusiveness, I find myself confused and disappointed that Clinton, who has in many other ways established herself as an ally to the LGBTQ community, hasn’t provided a response.
As a black, bisexual woman of color, a leader in the LGBTQ community, and a personal longtime supporter of the entire Clinton family, I want to know what Secretary Clinton’s answers are to these important questions, not only because they are relevant for my transgender friends, colleagues and loved ones, but because many of the issues that are mentioned in the questionnaire –– violence, discrimination, HIV, sex work, homelessness –– disproportionately affect bisexual cisgender people like myself too. The questions that TransUnited has posed to the candidates are about issues that deeply affect the most vulnerable groups within the LGBTQ community, and in too many cases, are matters of life or death for trans and bi people.
When trans people are also bi identified, their struggles multiply at the intersections of where sexual orientation and gender identity meet, and too often we see those bi, pan, fluid, queer (bi+) trans people forced to choose between one aspect of themselves, instead of being served, supported and celebrated as a whole and valid individual. Our community needs answers that reflect the comprehensive truth of trans lives if we are to make informed decisions in the voting booth.
From Stonewall and beyond, bisexual and transgender people have a long history of working together on issues that disproportionately affect both our communities, and there are many amazing bi+ trans people in positions of leadership across our intertwined advocacy movements. That’s why I’m speaking out as a bi leader and encouraging the Clinton campaign to complete TransUnited’s questionnaire by this Friday. I believe that protest often leads to progress, for even the smallest step toward equality matters. I encourage Secretary Clinton and her campaign to see the TransUnited questionnaire as an opportunity to move further toward justice for trans communities, bi communities, bi+ trans communities and for any community that supports justice for all and not just for some.
As BiNet USA’s President, Faith Cheltenham works to advocate for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, and queer (bi+) communities. An LGBT advocate since 1999, Faith writes on bisexual community issues, bisexual people of color community concerns and other topics for South Florida Gay News, Huffington Post and BiNet USA’s blog. In 2013, Faith co-organized the first bisexual community issues roundtable at the White House and in 2014, Faith was honored to meet President Obama privately alongside other LGBT leaders before witnessing the president sign the executive order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination. A mom and step-mom, Faith lives in LA with her husband Matt.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of BiNet USA.