Week of events honor trans­gen­der com­mu­nity

GA Voice - - A & E -

For the past decade or more, peo­ple have gath­ered on the steps of the Ge­or­gia Capi­tol to re­mem­ber trans­gen­der peo­ple who were killed or died be­cause of who they are. This year, the day will also cel­e­brate life.

The an­nual Trans­gen­der Day of Re­mem­brance, fa­cil­i­tated by Tracee McDaniel and her or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Jux­ta­posed Cen­ter for Trans­for­ma­tion, is also mov­ing in­doors for the first time and will be held at the Phillip Rush Cen­ter on Nov. 20.

“In ad­di­tion to the vigil we’ve added a new com­po­nent this year,” McDaniel says.

“We also wanted to fo­cus on the liv­ing and are col­lab­o­rat­ing with var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions with health screen­ings, hor­monal treat­ments, HIV test­ing, men­tal health coun­sel­ing. And we are also work­ing to pro­vide hous­ing and job in­for­ma­tion,” she ex­plains.

The free health fair is planned for 1-5 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Rush Cen­ter with the tra­di­tional vigil to fol­low at 6:30 p.m.

“We have al­ways fo­cused on the de­ceased in the past. But I re­ceive calls on a daily ba­sis of peo­ple in need. We just wanted to make sure we memo­ri­al­ize the dead but make sure the liv­ing have ser­vice,” McDaniel says.

“I’m so ex­cited. We are really grate­ful of the free health care ed­u­ca­tion providers. And within the LGB com­mu­nity there are still so many who are trans­pho­bic, so we are grate­ful to have providers who are not. In­stead they see us as peo­ple.”

Par­tic­i­pat­ing agen­cies in­clude The Health Ini­tia­tive, the Ful­ton and Dekalb health de­part­ments, the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health, Aniz Inc., Ab­so­lute Care and the Liv­ing Room.

McDaniel says TDOR this year is also join­ing forces with the Al­pha & Omega HIV/AIDS and Health Ini­tia­tives In­ter­na­tional, Inc., which is part of the Tak­ing Back Our Fu­ture Com­mit­tee. Plans are to work with Al­pha & Omega on sim­i­lar events in the fu­ture, McDaniel says. The key­note speaker for the TDOR vigil will be Al­pha & Omega founder Dr. YaQar.

Cheryl Court­ney-Evans, founder of Trans­gen­der In­di­vid­u­als Liv­ing Their Truth (TILTT), also plays a role in the an­nual TDOR event and is hope­ful about the ex­panded fo­cus.

“Ba­si­cally this year is just a holis­tic ap­proach to the sta­tus quo with re­gards to the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity,” she says. “All are rip­ples in a pond.”

Court­ney-Evans also ac­knowl­edged that read­ing the names of the dead each year dur­ing the Trans­gen­der Day of Re­mem­brance has been some­what frus­trat­ing. Yes, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber those who have died, but it is also past time to work to­ward mak­ing change for those who are alive, she says.

“To me, we’ve had so many losses and we lose so many ev­ery year,” she says. “The list gets longer. I for one could stand less name read­ing and more ideas of mo­ti­vat­ing those in at­ten­dance to or­ga­nize a move­ment to change. Once a year we read names and then we’re gone and it’s, ‘Oh, well,’ as op­posed to ac­tu­ally do­ing some tan­gi­ble ac­tions to change the sta­tus quo.”

For Court­ney-Evans, that in­cludes pas­sage of a state hate crime law, but also ad­dress­ing risky be­hav­iors some trans­gen­der peo­ple are forced into be­cause they can’t find a job which can lead to home­less­ness, HIV, and health dis­par­i­ties.

“It’s the whole domino ef­fect,” she says. “Un­til we can find a way to change that, we’re go­ing to have names con­tinue to be called. Call­ing names is a touch but it doesn’t solve the prob­lem. I hope I don’t sound too cal­lous, but it seems to be an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity. It’s the same ev­ery year. Peo­ple con­tinue to fall but no one is do­ing any­thing to ef­fec­tively change.”

Week­end of events planned

Sev­eral events specif­i­cally for the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity are also planned the week­end be­fore the Trans­gen­der Day of Re­mem­brance.

From Nov. 16-18, The Shep­herd’s Ta­ble Covenant Church and lo­cal trans­gen­der groups join to­gether to spon­sor Trans­gen­der & Gen­der Non-Con­form­ing Cel­e­bra­tion Week­end.

Shep­herd’s Ta­ble Covenant Church, led by Pas­tor El­liott Som­merville, is a strong sup­porter of trans­gen­der peo­ple, says Court­ney-Evans.

Events in­clude a com­mu­nity dis­cus­sion panel on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Lit­tle Five Points Com­mu­nity Cen­ter.

“The Pur­ple Af­fair: An Evening of Trans­gen­der Recog­ni­tion,” is planned from 6-9 p.m. on Nov. 17 at the com­mu­nity cen­ter; and Trans­gen­der Recog­ni­tion Sun­day will be held dur­ing the 11:45 a.m. ser­vice at the Shep­herd’s Ta­ble, fea­tur­ing guest speaker El­der Rahkel Henry.

“This year is go­ing to a busy week for trans­gen­der events and cel­e­bra­tions,” says Court­ney-Evans, who is help­ing or­ga­nize some of the events of this week­end.

The panel dis­cus­sion on Fri­day will ex­plore the many dif­fi­cul­ties fac­ing the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing le­gal is­sues as well as em­ploy­ment and health care. It will also serve as Trans­gen­der 101 for those want­ing to learn more, Court­ney-Evans says.

On Nov. 17 also at the Lit­tle Five Points Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, the “Pur­ple Af­fair” will honor and rec­og­nize peo­ple who are do­ing im­por­tant work for the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity.

“This is an awards din­ner for those who have played an in­te­gral roles in trans ac­tivism and com­mu­nity involvement,” Court­ney-Evans says. “While the event is free, we are ask­ing for do­na­tions. This is a fundraiser for TILTT as well as the Shep­herd’s Ta­ble Church.”

On Sun­day, Nov. 18, at the Shep­herd’s Ta­ble Church, the ser­vice will be led com­pletely by trans­gen­der peo­ple.

“Ba­si­cally what this does is stretch it out to give it more days of trans­gen­der recog­ni­tion rather than one day where ev­ery­one fo­cuses on trans­gen­der is­sues for only a few hours,” Court­ney-Evans says.

“I think that’s good. If you can’t come to TDOR, you can ex­pe­ri­ence a trans event dur­ing the course of three other events.”

Last year’s Trans­gen­der Day of Re­mem­brance, fa­cil­i­tated by Tracee McDaniel (left) and the Jux­ta­posed Cen­ter for Trans­for­ma­tion, was held on the steps of the state capi­tol. This year, TDOR moves in­doors to the Phillip Rush Cen­ter and in­cludes a health fair be­fore the an­nual vigil on Nov. 20. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

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