On Sun., Mar. 31, a Transgender Day of Visibility arrives in Courthouse Square at Santa Rosa. This event will include a march and short presentations of speakers on various Transgender issues. This special event will begin at 1 p.m.
Local community non-profits will be available to provide information and answer questions for students and their families, educators and community members who seek to support questioning youth. After the marchers return to the square, speakers from our local trans community and their allies will highlight issues of concern to the Transgender community. Topics will include such issues as homelessness and housing discrimination in the trans community, being both trans and a person of color, or trans and a refugee, issues for trans elders or veterans, the need for access to more health and medical services in our community. Other topics such as being trans in our military, our schools, in the workplace, with the justice system will be addressed.
Other services and information will include the justice system, the right to work or to employment, housing, service in the military, mental and health services in the community and education.
Many local support groups such as Positive Images, LGBTQ Connections, Santa Rosa Trans Latin’s associated with Santa Rosa Community Health, Letter People and the Transgender clinic will pass out information at tables in the square. These groups have similar missions to offer support. Positive Images’ mission statement captures most of the intent of all of these groups:
“Positive Images provides support and advocacy to Sonoma County’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, and intersex youths and adults, ages 12-24 and educates the greater community. We envision a Sonoma County where all youth are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.” More information can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizers for the Transgender Day of Visibility have been meeting every Sun. for the last couple of months to plan this event while sub-groups have met during the weekdays. This Santa Rosa event actually began as some organizers considered raising money to send people to a Transgender Day of Visibility in Washington D.C. or in San Francisco. Leaders such as Eliseo Rivas believed that the visibility should appear in the Sonoma County community.
Rivas enthusiastically elaborated: “As a leader, I conducted a meeting where the group consensus was that we should march in Santa Rosa. I think that one of my responsibilities, because I have a job and a college education, is to serve my communities and work hard to make a space for people to be heard and own their own power.” Rivas lives this responsibility daily by leading the group to a first major event, Transgender Day of Visibility.
Another organizer, Michael Ellison, who is a program assistant at Positive Images and a Trans-ally, sees the event as something personally significant. “It’s important to me because I have family members in the LGBTQ community. I work at Positive Images and I see a lot that makes me want to support the transgender community.” Ellison went on describe how the event came to be. This grass roots movement involves more than a dozen organizers. Backed by no outside funds, the movement’s mission seeks to educate all about resources that are available and about concerns that should be brought to light.
Another member of the organizing committee, Cassandra Albaugh, who has recently stepped out of the shadows to add her voice in the movement emphasizes light imagery as she discusses shades of voices. “As far as we have come, we still have so much farther to go. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we need to get through to the other side of the tunnel.”
Ellison, Rivas, and Albaugh shared this year’s theme: Trans Rights are DUE. The acronym DUE with “D” standing for diversity which is its, strength, “U” for unity is its power, and “E” which is its request for equity now. She reports that the organizing committee’s consensus was: “That the local community needs to see us. Our visible presence in our community serves as a protest to demonstrate the poor treatment of Transgender people. The outcome will be to breakdown isolation and let people know there are many connections.
A historical afternoon, Sun., Mar. 31, begins at 1 p.m. as our Transgender community and its cisgender allies in support present themselves and share vital information to the Sonoma County community. One organizer stressed the importance of this day: “In our schools, many students are struggling with their gender identity and our educators are critical factors in their struggles. Each of these children has families and friends who are also critical factors in their struggles. All in of our community can benefit by sharing resources and finding support to help all of us.” Transgender Day of Visibility in Santa Rosa offers so much to so many.