Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance Panel and Vigil in the Capital District

The Pride Agenda's Transgender Rights Program Organizer Ejay Carter reports back from our recent Transgender Day of Remembrance event:

The Empire State Pride Agenda
worked with In Our Own Voices, the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council, the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) and local advocates Moonhawk River Stone and Jaye McBride to host a Transgender Day of Remembrance Panel and Vigil in Albany on Wednesday, November 18, 2009. The event, held at the First Congregational Church in Albany, drew 85 attendees, including transgender activists and allies from both the Pride in the Pulpit and Pride in Our Union programs.

Panelists included the family members of Lateisha Green, a young African-American trans woman shot and killed in Syracuse in 2008; Moonhawk River Stone, a longtime transgender advocate and educator; Julia Hall, Outreach Project Director for NYSCASA; and Tara Ramsey, a member of In Our Own Voices and survivor of hate violence. Ejay Carter, Transgender Rights Program Organizer for the Pride Agenda, moderated as panelists discussed their experiences--both personal and professional--with bias crimes and violence, including prevention measures. Each of the speakers spoke on ways in which their lives had been touched by violence, and yet each focused on the importance for transgender New Yorkers of being free to be who we are, regardless of transphobia and other forms of hate and discrimination.

Following the panel, attendees were
led in a vigil for victims of bias crimes based on gender identity and expression by the Reverend Diane Marquit, and volunteers read out loud the names of those who had perished as a result of transphobic hate crimes in the last several years. While it was a solemn occasion to remember those who have lost their lives to bias crimes, participants also took the opportunity to come together and think about ways to move forward. Conversations around legislation followed the vigil, and participants signed letters in support of the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals in New York State. These letters, along with close to 2,000 others collected in the past several months, will be delivered to Senators in the coming weeks.

To learn more about transgender rights in New York State and to get involved in working to pass the GENDA bill, please contact Ejay Carter, the Transgender Rights Organizer at 518-472-3330 x306 or ecarter@prideagenda.org

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