By John Fisher-Klein, Director, Public Policy & Engagement, United Way of Delaware


“Say it loud, gay is proud.” This was the official chant of the first march for gay rights, organized to commemorate the first anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1969. This shift in messaging from quiet, reserved, and rare demonstrations marked the beginning of a movement that would bring change to the medical community and state and local laws across the country – ultimately helping to usher in equality nationally.

Despite this rallying cry and the cumulative successes of the movement, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ+) community continues to face attacks. This is especially true of transgender and gender-expansive individuals, who have often been on the front lines of the movement, are often the victims of the most vicious attacks (including murder), and, sadly, have frequently been excluded from the progress the community has made.

There was a period in the history of the movement when the G came before the L, B, and (when acknowledged) the T. This began to change during the 1980s and 1990s in part because of a rise in feminism and as a show of respect for the care shown by the lesbian community to gay men who were early victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis. While some long-standing parts of the movement still use “GLBT,” generally, it is more common to see LGBTQ+ these days.

We often discuss this movement through a white, cisgender lens. The reality is that gender-expansive individuals of color have always been on the front lines. Two of the most well-known are Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who were literally on the front lines in 1973 when organizers of the New York City Pride parade barred drag queens from joining. Johnson and Rivera (who were both at the 1969 Stonewall Riot) marched ahead of the parade in protest.

Is it time to change to TLGBQ+? Perhaps a new slogan? “Say it loud; trans is proud.”

We need to wrap our arms around our transgender and gender-expansive siblings, honoring those members of our community’s collective and showing the love and concern for them that they have shown us throughout history. Like lesbian, gay, bisexual, and other queer/questioning people, transgender and gender-expansive people have existed and been parts of communities throughout history and around the world. Today, they are elected officials, doctors, artists, teachers, attorneys, and more. Despite tremendous contributions to society and the movement for equal rights, they are the targets of laws that prohibit lifesaving medical care and contribute to a rise in hate and violence. In the 12 months before November 2023, the Human Rights Campaign reported at least 32 deaths of transgender and gender-expansive people in the United States. Of them, 84% were people of color, and half were Black transgender women. In 2024, at least 14 deaths have been reported.

I challenge all of us, TLGBQ+ (and that includes Allies), to make this the Pride that centers transgender and gender-expansive people, shows them the love and support that human dignity confers on all of us, and do your part to ensure no person believes they are better off dead than themselves.

TLGBQ+ youth and Allies are invited to join us in planning the 2024 Anti-Bullying/GSA Summit – our first meeting is at 4:00pm on June 11th on Zoom. Register at

Photo by Cecilie Bomstad on Unsplash