When Presidential Politics Meets Internalized Transphobia
I don’t know what to do with my feelings of sorrow and anger at reading The Advocate‘s story Transgender firefighter decides to opt out of Obama dinner.
Jennifer Lasko was one of the four small contributors that Barack Obama’s campaign selected to have a private dinner with the presidential candidate. Ms. Lasko had given $25 to the Obama campaign with a written an essay about being a firefighter, a Republican-turned-Democrat, and an Army veteran. What she hadn’t included in her essay was that she was transgender — the Palm Beach Post outed her after the Obama campaign released the names and essays of the selected small contributors.
Now, Jennifer Lasko has withdrawn from the dinner. In The Advocate article about the story, it was said:
“I’m just a citizen who wants to discuss issues. I was foolish to think I could keep [being transgender] under wraps,” she said in the article. “There are a lot of close-minded people who’ll make an issue of this.”
Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in the article that the Illinois senator would “love for her to attend the dinner,” which is set up as meeting ground to discuss changes needed in the United States.
I’m with Jen Psaki — I wish she hadn’t withdrawn. I admire that Jennifer Lasko put her concern for others before her own wants to be part of the political dialog, and it saddens me that she withdrew after being outed. Outing people just sucks.
But her withdrawal also angers me — Jennifer Lasko’s reaction to the outing sounds to me too much like internalized transphobia.
I want to scream at Jennifer that transgender people are allowed to be part of America’s political process. Her withdrawal says something more than just about herself as a transwoman who appreciates that some will find her presence offensive — what her withdrawal also says is that my transgender peers and I have something to be ashamed of.
I have nothing to be ashamed of; neither does Jennifer Lasko. I wish she’d have sent that message to my transgender peers and me — as well as to the rest of her’s and my country.