Why we stood up for our transgender family and friends...
Equality Toledo is thankful that the Star 105 billboard mocking Caitlyn Jenner was removed. We are an organization committed to transgender people. We are an organization made up of transgender people. We know that building and promoting inclusion is not just about passing legislation, but also about shifting attitudes and behaviors. The offensive Star 105 billboard makes a mockery of the transition process many transgender people experience. This is unacceptable. The transition process can ultimately be rewarding but it can also be an emotionally and physically taxing time. We at Equality Toledo believe in respecting transgender people and celebrating their lives, the caricaturing of Caitlyn Jenner by Star 105 host Denny Schaffer is hardly that. In fact, his ad continues to perpetuate the stereotype that transgender people are comedic showcase and do not have real identities. This is exactly the opposite of what we want for our city of Toledo, a place where transgender people live and work.
Star 105’s choice of advertising is abhorrent and trivializes what it means to be a transgender person. And because of this, the billboard outraged not just members of the LGBTQ+ community but also our allies who are just as committed to building a more inclusive city. In fact, this is why we had overwhelming support when rallying our community and local businesses to take action. As an organization, we acknowledge the rights of free speech, but free speech does not come without consequences, especially when it is used as a tool to ridicule members of our community. We must remember, even with increased visibility transphobia is a real thing. Transgender people suffer all types of violence at the hands of our society, which often sees them as less-than. As result of this neglect transgender attempted suicide rates are staggering. We must all do our parts to change this and hold responsible any organization that chooses to participate in the “othering” of transgender people. Removing this billboard shows that we are headed in the right direction.
As best articulated by board member Lilian Briggs, we must use this time of increased visibility to have thoughtful and intentional conversations with transgender people, not coopt their stories in an attempt to gain listeners.