Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New York Equality and Justice Day

April 28, 2009, New York State had its Equality and Justice Day at the State Capitol in Albany, NY. I was out there lobbying for Dignity for All Students ACT, Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), and marriage equality. I was really wowed by the pure raw energy through out the day, especially during Governor David Patterson’s morning speech, and at the rally. The other thing that really caught my attention was when we were walking to the legislative office building and hearing the roar of the supporters from other states, especially Vermont, thank you Vermont!

I met with my legislators (both of whom happen to be republican), and the big message I received from both was that they need to hear from their constituents. When I asked the Chief of Staff of my Assemblyman why my assemblyman voted against the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), he replied "we need to hear from our constituents, and we vote on what the majority of out constituents want from us". My senator also told us that he votes based on his constituency and moral values.

I have been involved in a lot of activism leading up to the New York Equality & Justice Day in my community. I find that after all the media attention we have received this last year, people are eager to learn about transgender and the transgender community. The transgender literature was flying off the tables. People are hungry to know more about us, they want to hear our stories, and they want to hear it from the transgender people themselves.

Since I have been "out" in my conservative little community, the people have been just wonderful to me and my children. Sure I have dealt with small pockets of discrimination, but I find this disappears with education and time. My children’s school district has been wonderful to me, they allowed be to do a common-law name change on my children’s school records, refer to my using proper pronouns. I raise a child with disabilities and all the disability organizations we deal with have been very supportive.

You may ask, "Why do we need Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and Dignity for All Students Act? The reason is simple, we still have serious pockets of hate and violence, transgender people are still loosing their jobs due to discrimination, transgender people are still being evicted from our homes, being denied necessary healthcare, etc. These bills will give us the tools we desperately need to continue the fight towards winning full equality.

You can make a difference, even if you can't attend the events. Hand written letters and phone calls carry the most weight. Most legislators read their mail, but email is easily deleted. Talk about your experiences, good and bad. People want to learn about us.

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