Friday, September 24, 2010

Moving On, and Moving Forward

Reflections from outgoing Transgender Rights Program Organizer Ejay Carter

Any time one makes the decision to leave a current job and move on, it’s an opportunity to reflect. Over the past two weeks, I’ve thought a great deal about the work that I’ve participated in at the Pride Agenda, and how it’s part of the continuum pushing for equality and justice for LGBT New Yorkers.

Over the last two years alone we have accomplished an incredible amount of work to further the GENDA Campaign to secure basic civil rights for transgender New Yorkers. We have hosted statewide GENDA strategy meetings, countless conference calls, collected and hand delivered well over 3,000 letters, hosted 3 call-in days with national participation, lead or participated in at least a dozen panels, had a well attended GENDA Advocacy Day, partnered with organizations such as Housing Works to continue lobbying efforts, created new advocacy materials such as the Mythbuster and Trans Experiences and recruited hundreds of new individuals to the campaign. And those are just some of the highlights. There have been in-district meetings, person-to-person conversations in labor and faith communities, and in a myriad of other places. This doesn’t even cover our push within state agencies to further transgender inclusion and equality.

I’ve had the pleasure of traveling across the state to meet advocates, both professional and volunteer, who have dedicated their lives and time to working for equality in various legislative campaigns, including for the Dignity for All Students Act and marriage equality. Many of these advocates taught me, along with the rest of the Pride Agenda, invaluable lessons about sustainable community building--and resilience.

So what now? The work moves forward. The campaign to win transgender civil rights will undoubtedly be strong, and will need the help of every advocate. One of the most inspiring and challenging parts of advocating for justice to all New Yorkers is the fact that there is no clear beginning - or end - to the work we do together.

There are set-backs, challenges and victories. But the movement is rich with talented advocates, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my tenure at the Pride Agenda. I am strongly looking forward to acting as a volunteer advocate moving forward. Of course, I’m personally invested in equality, but I’m also intimately familiar with how far we have come, and how much more there still is to do. I look forward to pushing for the transgender civil rights bill, and to aiding with its implementation when it finally passes. I see a broad, inclusive, statewide movement for LGBT equality developing, with Pride Agenda assistance, and I’m honored to have been a part of the work as a staff member.

As I move from a professional, full time role, I know that I want to be there for the next steps in the struggle for transgender rights, and in the community building efforts on all of our goals. I’m grateful to have worked and learned from both staff and volunteers with the Pride Agenda. Those lessons will serve me well personally, and I know will serve this organization well, too.

Butchie, the GENDA puppy is the beloved pet of Sheilah Sable, the Pride Agenda’s Upstate Director of Pride in Action.

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