Chances are, unless you happen to be part of the LGBT community, even more specifically, the transgender community, you are likely unaware of any controversy at all regarding the speech actor Jared Leto gave when accepting his Golden Globe.

If you are so inclined, you may view it here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FymvWjHYMN8

In the Movie “Dallas Buyers Club” Leto plays a transgender woman named “Rayon” and this character became more or less the emotional core of the movie. In his acceptance speech, Leto made light of his transformation for the role mentioning having his body waxed of hair. There was nothing overtly offensive, just maybe a little insensitive. One would think that an actor playing such a role would have done some research into the person he was portraying.

To reduce the difficulties faced by transgender people to “hair removal” is just ignorant. It wasn’t a statement of hate.

Several things bother me about this though –

One, it feels like a missed opportunity. We have so desperately needed (we, being the Trans* community) a big national stage where the portrayal of a Trans* person isn’t stereotyped, marginalized or mocked. Trans* women are at their core, women. Period. We are so misunderstood and the opportunity to perhaps clear up a few of those misconceptions on a national stage was tantalizingly close, but instead it was used to get a laugh.

Another thing is this: We need to understand that to the general public, not only isn’t this a big deal, it’s no deal at all! Go ahead, Google search Jared Leto and try to find anything on this controversy. While a few LGBT publications have addressed it and social media (at least pages like mine that have a significant number of Trans* people on it) are alive with vitriol aimed at Mr. Leto. Outside of that, it’s a non-story. Nobody even noticed, except for us. We need to make the myriad issues facing us matter outside of our own community.

That leads me to my final point on this. I’ve noticed time and again the tendency in the Trans* community is that when something like this happens, instead of forming a circle of support with a unified message, what tends to happen is we form a circle and turn our frustration on each other instead of focusing our energy on the problems facing us. It seems to degrade into whether Drag Queens count as Trans* girls, or Pre-op vs Post op or Crossdressers aren’t legit or on and on. As long as we can’t come together as brothers and sisters and share a common voice…we will continue to be marginalized.

There just aren’t enough of us…certainly not to get a legislators attention. If we fragment, then what? It’s only worse. Fighting with each other is the best possible outcome for those who would deny us our rights.

OK, Jared Leto made light of hair removal at the Golden Globes.

Reality check time: 

  • In California, The Pacific Justice Institute is trying to keep transgender students from using the bathroom.
  • In Texas, there is a case working through the courts NOW that if ruled against us, could un-do name and gender changes granted by another state.
  • Trans* women and especially Trans* women of color continue to be murdered at an alarming rate.
  • Our suicide rate is still the highest of any single group in America
  • The unemployment rate for Trans* people is twice the national average and we are 4 times as likely to have a household income under $10,000.
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie this month denied Trans* people the ability to change the information on their birth certificates to match their identified gender.

I can go on and on. Look at those numbers above. Those are real. Hell yes it would have been nice to have Mr. Leto bring up any of those issues in his Golden Globe speech…but he didn’t.

We must get mainstream America to quit looking at us as curiosities and freaks.

A good start would be to join hands together and present a unified message to mainstream media. We are people too. Our lives have value, the same as anyone else. We are entitled to the same rights, respect and equal protection as any other American.

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