Guest View: Transgender Man Seeking Inclusion in Civil Rights Act

Guest View: Transgender Man Seeking Inclusion in Civil Rights ActFerndale 115_FFL

(Guest View by Preston Van Vliet, Nov. 29, 2014)


Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, December 3rd, the Michigan legislature is expected to hold a key hearing on an inclusive update to the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act, which would protect Michiganders from discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. See below for resources about transgender equality.


I am a transgender man. I’m calling on all non-transgender people right now to communicate your support for the transgender community. I’m calling on straight non-transgender people; I’m calling on lesbian, bi, queer, and gay non-transgender people. The legislature has made amending the statewide Civil Rights Act (also known as chazzano game adElliot Larsen) a priority to pass in the current lame duck. We just have to make sure that they do it in a way that protects all people. We have to do it in a way shows we value fairness among all people. We need to make sure that gender identity and gender expression are covered. Covering only sexual orientation leaves behind the very people who are subject to the highest level of discrimination. Leaving gender identity, hence transgender people, out of this bill would set us back years in the progress that has been made towards equality. We need gender expression to be protected because many people may express their gender in a way that doesn’t conform to our society’s stereotypes. Including gender identity and gender expression doesn’t just protect transgender people; it protects all people from discrimination based on someone’s perception of their gender.


When I was younger, it was difficult to share what was going on around my loneliness, my gender, or my sexuality. When I told my sister I might be gay, she told me that maybe I wasn’t. When I told my sister that I might be a man, she told me that’s not what was happening. So I hid within myself. But as I attended Oakland University, I found others who accepted me and I realized that I didn’t have to be alone.CFSEM-123-OaklandCounty115-digital-ad_v2


On October 19th, 2010, Corey Jackson, a young gay man on our campus, completed suicide. I saw Corey, and I saw what could have been my best friends; I saw Corey and saw what could have been me. I went to my mentor Melissa Pope and told her that I needed to do something so that young people don’t have to feel this kind of loneliness and she said, “You’re right. You do.” So she sent me to several leadership workshops and our student organization worked to get more resources for our LGBTQ students. We helped to expand the Gender and Sexuality Center and helped an on-going campaign to add royal_servicesgender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation to our anti-discrimination policy. We also started a campaign to get a full time staff person for the Center
I saw that with love and dedication, we could build a better community and a better future together for all people. Us transgender people are hard-working and creative individuals. But we face high levels of discrimination, harassment, and unemployment. We need you to support us in being included in our Michigan community. Call your representatives and tell them to vote down a bill that only has protections for sexual orientation. Tell them that gender identity and gender expression need to be included.

For more information on how to get involved, please email Amanda Niven, the organizer of the Trans* Leadership Project, at



Transgender Detroit

HowesLocationMichigan AIDS Coalition

Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV)

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