Queer Voices

Wilson Cruz, Janet Mock And Mel Wymore Discuss Transgender Equality On Melissa Harris-Perry


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Actor Wilson Cruz, writer and transgender advocate Janet Mock and New York City Council candidate Mel Wymore (D) were guests on MSNBC'S "Melissa Harris-Perry" show on Sunday, March 24. Cruz, Mock and Wymore discussed transgender equality with host Melissa Harris-Perry.

The show opened up with Harris-Perry discussing her attendance at the 2013 GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on March 16 and GLAAD's recent name change. During the award ceremony, GLAAD's President, Herndon Graddick, announced that "GLAAD" would no longer stands as an acronym for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Defamation. Instead, the group is altering its name to align with its new mission to focus more on advocating for transgender equality and to include other parts of the LGBT community beyond just lesbians and gays. GLAAD will now be simply known as GLAAD, the LGBT Media Advocacy Organization.

Cruz, a national spokesperson for GLAAD, said that the violence against trans people around the world is "disgusting" and drew a connection to the current media images of transgender people, which he said he believes have a long way to go to accurately represent their lives and experiences. He also noted that GLAAD wants to be at the forefront of including transgender people as a part of the larger LGBT community too.

Mock zoomed in on transgender women of color being the most vulnerable to violence. "Trans people specifically and when we say trans people we can't pretend that it's a monolith. This is trans women, specifically trans women of color, who are most vulnerable to police brutality, violence and who are engaged in sex work because this society does not equate our womanhood to any kind of humanhood," she explained. "We need to redefine what equality is. If we're defining equality as something that is scarce and limited and is for a very select few in our community and some of us need to wait a little bit. That is not equality. That's upholding very systematic systems of oppression."

Wymore, an open transgender man who is currently running for office, wants to focus on inclusiveness. "We need to acknowledge that there are people that are really hurting and we need to fight for laws that protect us. We also need to be out there as LGBT representatives, serving the entire community making sure that all people are included, all voices are heard," he said.

Wymore is running to replace Councilwoman Gale Brewer in District 6 on the Upper West Side of New York City. If he wins, he will be the city's first transgender elected official.

During this year's GLAAD Media Awards, Harris-Perry won an award for "Outstanding TV Journalism" in the news magazine category.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story applied Cruz's use of the term "disgusting" directly to media representations of trans people. While he was arguing that representations need to be address and changed, that term was not applied specifically.

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