“It’s impossible to hate anyone whose story you know.” 
This powerful statement can be applied universally, but in this case pertains specifically to representing the transgender community. As we have learned in class about how influential and groundbreaking narratives can be in a museum setting, transgender narratives can serve to break down negative stereotypes and stigma that often surround the community. In Throwing Our Voices, Jennifer Finney Boylan actively uses stories as a way to shine light on civil rights for the transgender community. Boylan acknowledges the fact that although there is not necessarily one shared transgender experience, courage, compassion, and solidarity are commonly found in the community despite differences in class, race, and social privilege. In her writing, she reminds us that the most important thing is love between human beings, and acknowledging our shared desire to be respected and have the opportunity for a bright future.
The National Park Service (NPS) is also utilizing the power of narrative in their LGBT Initiative. By incorporating stories of transgender communities, NPS aims to expand the scope of history that has been significantly underrepresented in the past. It is essential for LGBT visitors to see themselves and their communities at historic sites, not only to accurately present a more inclusive history, but to also acknowledge the transgender community on a national level. The NPS seeks to answer the question of, “How can we promote understanding of LGBT people’s experiences as central to American history and also serve the great variety of LGBT groups and their internal dynamics?”  Much like Boylan, NPS is aware that tensions may arise when telling stories of civil rights victories aside painful stories of homophobic violence, denial of rights, and suppressed identity. It is vital for public historians to make important, although difficult, decisions, to create inclusive and constructive content, that promotes healthy dialogue for visitors within and outside of the LGBT community.
Allies and Angels is another wonderful example of how narrative can help break down the stigma surrounding the transgender experience. In the book, parents Terri and Vince Cook, share their story of supporting their son’s transition through unconditional love, strength, and compassion . By narrating their experiences through the ups and downs of their son’s transition, the Cooks offer to a broad audience one family’s truth of the transgender experience. Perhaps the most compelling section of the chapter entitled Converging on the Truth is the part describing Drew’s visit to the hospital early in his transition, where medical professionals served as allies in the emergency room. By providing understanding and support for Drew and his family, including using male pronouns, the medical field acknowledged and validated the basic transgender human condition. What may seem like a very subtle gesture, this acknowledgement meant the world to Drew and his family, in a time when it truly mattered.
This memoir can serve the public in a variety of ways. As an informative guide for other parents with transitioning children, the book promotes the importance of parents advocating for their children, as well as providing examples of support systems. It can also serve as an introduction for those not familiar with the transgender community, looking to learn more and cultivate a deeper understanding of what it means to be transgender. With its informal and truthful prose, Angels and Allies provides a look into the life of a family finding their way through the challenges and triumphs of their journey. Drew’s parents share personal narrative, including his encouraging experience at Pride Prom, to remind the reader of the humanity of their story, and what it takes to embrace one’s true identity.
Making strides for transgender visibility in popular culture, the Amazon series Transparent brings a bit of comedy to a challenging narrative about belonging, acceptance, and identity. The Golden Globe winning show created by Jill Soloway is loosely based on her father who recently came out as transgender. Not only does the show serve to tell the fictional story of a LA family coming to terms with finding out their father is transgender, Soloway uses her platform to grapple with traditional notions of femininity and gender norms that many struggle with. Behind the scenes, inclusivity continues with gender neutral bathrooms, a welcoming climate, and a “transfirmative action program” created by Soloway that favors hiring transgender candidates over non transgender candidates. Over eighty transgender people have been hired in the cast, crew, extras, and as transgender consultants.
Using stories, whether fact or fiction, can be an effective bridge to create a deeper understanding of transgender identity and combat harmful stigmas. After all, we all have our own personal and unique experience in this world, and this universal truth can bring people together. As Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes, “We all struggle to become comfortable in the skin we were born into; we all try to uncover an identity beneath what was assigned to us at birth. That, above all else, is what Soloway’s show is about.” 
 Boylan, Jennifer Finney. “Throwing Our Voices: An Introduction”. Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community. Oxford University Press. 2014, xv.
 Feller, Laura. “NPS LGBT Initiative: An Opportunity for Public Historians”. http://ncph.org/history-at-work/nps-lgbt-initiative-an-opportunity/
 Cook, Terri., Cook, Vince. Angels and Allies. Hallowed Birch Publishing. 2013.
 Brodesser-Akner, Taffy. Can Jill Soloway Do Justice to the Trans Movement?. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/magazine/can-jill-soloway-do-justice-to-the-trans-movement.html?_r=0
Featured: LGBT pride parade in Spain, 2008 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:LGBT-2008-Madrid-Alaska-1.jpg
Gendered Bathroom Sign https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bathroom-gender-sign.png