Trans rights activist Kylar Broadus spoke to UMKC students last Wednesday as part of UMKC’s Campus Pride Month.
Broadus discussed the importance of resistance and resilience in this day and age, especially for the LGBT+ community.
He began by speaking of his experience growing up in small-town Missouri with loving and supportive parents who taught him how to love himself and have confidence in who he is. Broadus expressed gratitude for his family, but acknowledged that many people in the LGBT+ community don’t find such support from their families.
“If you don’t find [love] in your blood family, find the love somewhere, and there’s always somebody to love you and help you,” Broadus said.
After being fired from his job for being trans, Broadus set out to create legislation to protect members of the LGBT+ community.
“All my reviews were excellent,” said Broadus. “My performance reports were excellent. And when I went to sue them, I found there was no case law that protected transgender people. That’s when I got busy, and I decided, ‘You know what? I’m gonna make laws.’”
Since then, Broadus has been instrumental in activism for the LGBT+ community and has successfully lobbied and advocated for protective and inclusive legislation. In 2012, Broadus was the first openly trans person to testify before the U.S. Senate.
Broadus spoke about the concept of self-care and how it relates to resilience.
“I think that for us to continue to exist and be who we are fully, […] we must have that time to take care of ourselves,” Broadus said. “We don’t need to do the self-loathing, the self-hate. Self-care is an act of political warfare. Being yourself as an LGBT person is very difficult sometimes. So self-care allows us to continue to do the work.”
Broadus touched on the topic of violence against trans and non-binary individuals, and he explained that part of resilience is not allowing such acts of violence to oppress who you are as a person.
“I’ve never been hidden, because I refuse to live in fear and hide who I am, because I have just as much right on this planet as anybody else,” he said. “I was willing to die and am willing to die for who I am, because I would rather die than not be me.”
On the topic of resistance, Broadus said he believes the LGBT+ community should work together to resist negative forces coming from outside the community, rather than fighting within.
“We need to come together as a community, and I see so much divisiveness in our community,” Broadus said.
Broadus spoke of the importance of resistance through the act of voting and being politically active. He explained that in order to continue advancing the LGBT+ community, community members must work to flip political offices back to Democratic incumbents.
He ended his discussion by touching on the importance of compassion within the LGBT+ community.
“Compassion and caring is where we should all be. We should not be fighting each other. We should learn about each other in this community,” said Broadus. “We’re all different, whether we’re trans or not, [we’re] different people. We have different views, but the fight is not within us and to each other. The fight is outside, so we should stay together.”