This year, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) held its annual dinner on Friday, November 13, at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville. The keynote speaker at the annual fundraiser was State Senator Sara Kyle (D-Memphis). Kyle was the sponsor of the Tennessee Non Discrimination Act earlier this year, and has agreed to reintroduce the Birth Certificate Fairness Act in 2016.
While the TTPC’s lobbyist, Marisa Richmond, highlighted progress in trans rights in Tennessee, she noted, “The Tennessee General Assembly has been a problem, that’s no secret. Our legislation has not yet passed, though we continue to propose legislation. As we just saw on Tuesday, trans youth in our state are under attack… [Bud Hulsey] has suggested he wants to criminalize the use of school facilities by transgender youth in this state. We fought successful against the bathroom bill in 2012, but it’s going to be back in 2016. And the work of the TTPC and your support for our work is going to help us defeat that again!”
Kyle, who has pledged to introduce legislation allowing trans people in Tennessee to get the gender on their birth certificates changed, told the assembled activists and supporters, that the TTPC is “allowing me to do something that my family has always done, and that’s fight for equality…. Now it’s my turn to fight for equal rights. It’s a drive that’s with me every day.”
Briefly addressing the history of women’s rights, Kyle pledged that “the fight for gender equality still goes on today. Some progress yes, but there is a lot more yet to come…. The key to moving society forward is never give up and never lose hope.”
“There is no doubt that being transgender in today’s society is unreasonably hard, but there is hope that one day this will not be the case,” she said. “Thanks to organizations like yours, and more Americans that are joining your efforts, we have become more familiar with what the term means, that it covers a very extensive range of individuals, and that don’t identify with the gender on their birth certificates. And that is why I’ve decided to sponsor a bill for the upcoming session that provides for birth certificate to be changed to reflect gender.”
Besides being a matter of social justice, Kyle said, the move, which is unlikely to pass but which she pledges to continue to promote, would bring the state in line with the rest of the states, and federal law. “Currently Tennessee is the only state that completely bans such changes, and since that ban entered the books in 1977 no one looks at us and says, ‘We want to follow you!’ And that includes every state that borders ours, all of which allow at least some to change their birth certificates.”
PHOTOS from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition annual dinner