This is today’s Twitter thought for the day from the Santa Fe Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Support Group. This is my favorite quote, which has inspired my activism for nearly thirty years. The quote is in full:
“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”
“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.”
Rights are never given away by the oppressors, a truth Frederick Douglas learned some hundred and fifty years ago. Over the years his words have echoed in my ears every time I picketed in front of institutions that needed to change. Sometimes it was an ACT-UP “actions,” other time it was Queer Nation or just a group of pissed of LGBTQ people. I have seen how people power can work when you have people working within the system and activists demanding rights on the outside. I’ve seen it result in new legislation, a change in regulations or speeding up approval process for anti-Viral medications or treatments for HIV/AIDS opportunistic infections. Now I advocate applying the same approach for demanding our rights as a trans community. Join me in whatever way is best for you. Together we can change hearts, minds, laws, regulations and other obstacles that prevent us from being fully equal members of society!
Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. #FrederickDouglas #StandUpForTransRights #ThoughtForTheDay