Today I would like to honor and celebrate my dear friend, Jenn Burleton. Jenn is a fierce social justice advocate and one of the founders and Executive Director of TransActive, a non-profit agency dedicated to supporting transgender and gender non-conforming youth around the country. Jenn is an amazing and compassionate educator about transgender issues. I also feel compelled to say that being transgender or gender non-conforming have nothing to do with one’s sexual orientation, although there is some overlap regarding marginalization, multiple identities, and the intersections of oppression.
Jenn does a particularly good job of helping folks understand the very important issue of gender identity, which seems a tricky business for people to understand for some reason. Jenn explains:
At some point we have to let go of this notion that trans people who have had surgery have to be forthcoming about that fact or be forthcoming if they have not had surgery, from a social interaction persepective it is irrelavent—anatomy on a day to day basis is irrelevant. There are some transgender people that do in fact over-emphasize or act as though being post op is a trophy. That can be a dangerous path because it takes away from the more important conversation around gender identity and puts the focus only on genitals. The surgery should not have to be the validation of our identity.
Jenn is transgender, but she is also lesbian–two marginalized identities. What first drew me to Jenn is that she is a strong feminist and a true voice for social justice. What I love about Jenn is that she works so hard to celebrate, educate, and advocate the complexities of gender identity. My hope is that we come to a point when more of us celebrate and embrace our transgender brothers and sisters. Click here to learn more about Jenn and about TransActive.