Thursday, February 16, 2012
Post by Pride Agenda volunteer Theo Zegers, student and Capital District resident. Sign up for updates on New York State's transgender non-discrimination bill and more.
There can come along with the prospect of “dropping off letters to senators” a certain apprehension. The overall sense is not very unlike rolling out of bed in the morning, like “oh here we go…” But on February 6, I am content to report, I was a part of a very successful afternoon in which approximately ten concerned citizens, including transgender activists, their families, friends and allies, went and distributed at least 2,000 letters from across the state of New York. (These letters are a mere snowball in the avalanche of support that will follow.)
All of the letters came from the constituents in varying New York State Senate districts, and all expressed the urgency for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to pass. GENDA simply expands the human rights legislation that already exists to protect New Yorkers on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc. The population that remains unprotected until GENDA passes includes, but is not limited to: people who identify as transgender, people who are gender non-conforming, and individuals with varying gender expressions.
These key points were all very articulately conveyed by the aforementioned group of concerned citizens; and the message was heard by, well, anyone who was willing to listen. The majority of our audience seemed genuine in their understanding and even agreement that this bill is vital. It was only a very small percentage of staff members throughout the entire afternoon who seemed to zone out slightly as our team relayed its message. The experience was positive and impactful.
Among some of the most powerful highlights of the day, one detail that impressed me was the support from the individuals in our group --some of whom this bill does not directly effect, and yet who uphold the notion that until everyone is free, no one is free. Among our team members, there were parents of transgender children, transgender people of color, and LGBTQ interfaith leaders all contributing time and energy. Christopher Argyros, who heads up the coordination of transgender rights at Empire State Pride Agenda, kept our hope alive by sharing that 16 other states already have this legislation, including states ranging from places like Connecticut to Nevada.
I have faith that New York’s progressive nature will catch up to and eventually outrun its bigotry. Monday’s events were just another smooth leg in the race towards equality and justice.
Also, check out this video montage put together by Transgender Rights Organizer Christopher Argyros: