52 Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality

52 thingsAchieving our goal of transgender equality requires activism at the local, state and national levels. While NCTE focuses on federal policies, we strongly support and encourage the vital work of grassroots activists. Each week during 2006, we will feature an idea for action that you can take at a local level. Some will be challenging, some will be simple; all are effective ideas and we will include links, resources and thoughts to help you get started. Some are things you can do on your own, while others are ideas for local groups to work on. We hope that you will take on projects that spark your interest and that meet a need in your community as we work together for equality for all people.

You can print out our free poster of 52 Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality and put it on your wall where other people can see it and get inspired to take action of their own. Or, click on an idea here to read more details and find resources on how to accomplish each of these things.

#1: Take a Trans Person to Lunch
#2: Ask your library to carry books that deal positively with trans people
#3: Attend an anti-racism training and put into practice what you learn
#4: Run for Office
#5: Invite your mayor or other elected official to address a trans group or town meeting
#6: Plan an Art Show of Works by Trans Artists
#7: Create and publicize a calendar of local events and encourage people to attend them
#8: Start an online community or a blog that deals with an issue that is important to you
#9: Change the Policy of an Organization You Belong To
#10: Donate money to an organization providing direct services for transgender people
#11: Hold a workshop on how to effectively advocate for yourself when seeking medical care or therapy
#12: Ask Your Local Film Festival to Show Trans Themed Movies and then Go See Them
#13: Support the Day of Silence
#14: Preach or speak at a local community of faith, such as a synagogue, church or mosque
#15: Adopt a Highway
#16: Hold a Trans Pride event in your community
#17: March as a trans contingent in the Gay Pride Parade
#18: Educate a local homeless shelter about how to be trans inclusive
#19: Pass a non-discrimination ordinance in your community
#20: Visit the offices of your congressional representative and educate them about trans issues
#21: Start a local support or education group
#22: Volunteer with an LGBT Advocacy group
#23: Start a Speakers' Bureau
#24: Break a Gender Rule
#25: Make a Restroom More Accessible to Trans People
#26: Locate Support Services
#27: Collaborate with another group on a community project or social event.
#28: Work to Pass a Nondiscrimination Policy at Your Workplace
#29: Connect with PFLAG!
#30 Write a regular column for a publication
#31: Plan to Come out on National Coming Out Day on October 11
#32: Register New Voters!

#33: Fund Scholarships!
#34: Programs for Youth
#36 Get involved in the political process: Volunteer for a Candidate
#37 Plan and conduct a Day of Remembrance event
#38 Support or create a radio show or podcast
#39 Hold a House Party for NCTE or another trans organization
#40 Make Jails Safer for Trans People
#41 Hold a Job Fair
#42 Support a Drag Community Event
#43 Engage Media Coverage of Transgender Issues
#44 Conduct a Community Needs Assessment
#45 Vote!
#46 Start a discussion group on gender related books
#47 Respond to Alerts from Other Organizations
#48 Collect and share stories of discrimination
#49 Set up a training in a hospital, nursing or medical school
#50 Write an op-ed
#51 Help an LGBT organization become more transgender friendly
#52 Make a New Year's Resolution for Transgender Equality

#1: Take a Trans Person to Lunch

Or dinner, coffee or afternoon tea. Where and when you go doesn’t matter, but connecting with another person does. Networking strengthens our activism and reminds us why we are doing this work, plus you might make a new friend. So, maybe think of that person in your support group, the cross dresser who doesn’t always talk but is such a great listener—why not get to know her better? What about the transman who volunteered at that event you went to—what about saying thanks to him? How about that college student from the genderqueer organization—seems like an interesting person? Or a person from a group that’s very different than your own—how about finding out what makes them tick? You get the idea. Think of folks you don’t yet know well and drop them an e-mail or give them a call. Let’s start our year of activism with that all important human contact. In future weeks, we’ll include resources on how to put the ideas into action, but we’re sure you’ve got this one covered. So, make plans this week to take a trans person to lunch.

 

#2: Ask your library to carry books that deal positively with trans people

Libraries are an important source of information. Access to public libraries is free and open to everyone in the United States. According to the American Library Association, there are more than 117,000 libraries in this country, including 16,220 public libraries, and 62% of Americans have a library card. Therefore, it is important to have accurate and trans affirming books available when people seek them out. Think of the students writing research papers, the people wondering if they might be trans, and the doctors and therapists who want to learn a little more about their trans patients, just to name a few. All kinds of people go to libraries.

Help the librarians in your community or at your school include books that are useful to our community by suggesting titles or donating books. Think of books that have been especially helpful or interesting to you.

For ideas of good books, check out the Trans Academics website and click on Publications.

To find a library near you and for information on how to support your library, go to the American Library Association website.

Contact your local library and ask how you can submit a title for consideration or make a donation to the library to purchase a particular book or journal.

 

#3: Attend an anti-racism training and put into practice what you learn

Racism is damaging to our grassroots movement and to us as individual people. Trans people come from very diverse backgrounds—we come from all cultures, races, classes and groups. Racism continues to fracture our nation … and transgender communities.

Taking a strong stand against anything that may divide and weaken our community is one way to strengthen our activism. Attending an anti-racism training, and then putting into practice what you learn, can be a vital step in building a strong movement. We cannot create a world in which all people are honored treated with equality while disrespect and inequities of racism continue.

A good diversity training will not make you feel guilty or powerless; rather, it will give you tools to work with others who are different from you and help you better understand the world in which we all live.

Look for an anti-racism group that has a proven track record of positive work in your area. If you want to set up diversity training for your community group, ask for references from non-profits, religious groups, other community organizations or employers about successful programs that they have done. Some excellent places to start are:

Go to an anti-racism training. You’ll be glad you did it, you’ll strengthen our movement and it’s the right thing to do.

 

#4: Run for Office

Some of the ways you can work for transgender equality are easy while others are more challenging. This week’s idea is one that could turn your life upside down, but imagine the good that you could do as an elected official.

Our government is one that is of the people, by the people and for the people. Trans people have a right to run for office and the right to be well represented by our elected officials. Those who serve in political offices are in a position to make a difference in people’s lives, introduce legislation that can improve the lives of their constituents, and set an inclusive agenda. Elected officials have an opportunity to be a part of the decision making mechanisms of our country.

Transgender people have successfully run for office. For example, Michelle Bruce, who is open about being intersex and transgender, currently serves on the City Council in Riverdale, Georgia. Other trans people have held office as well.

Running for office can be an important statement and a worthwhile experience. NCTE Board of Advisors member Amanda Simpson, who was a candidate for state representative in Arizona in 2004 commented, “By running for office, you are able to engage the general public about the issues that are important to them and they can begin to relate to transgender people as people who are fully part of the same community and have the same struggles and hopes as everyone else.”

If you are interested in running for office, or in supporting those who do, an important resource is the Victory Fund, which has endorsed and supported transgender candidates. You can find them at The Victory Fund and click on the button marked, “Run for Office.” They hold regular trainings for potential candidates; this year, the trainings are being held on March 9-12 in Louisville, Kentucky, June 15-18 in Washington, DC and November 15- 18 in Orlando, Florida. They have had at least one transgender participant at each of the trainings that they have held in the past two years and see this as a very positive sign that more trans people will be running for office in the coming years. If you are even considering running for office or supporting someone who is, make sure you check out the trainings.

 

#5: Invite your mayor or other elected official to address a trans group or town meeting

Okay, so maybe running for office isn’t for you, but it is critical that trans voices be heard by our elected officials. After all, they do represent you. Why not invite the mayor, a legislator, city council member or other elected official to address a trans group, conference or gathering? You can ask them to speak at an already scheduled event or create a special town meeting for them to speak as well as hear concerns from the community.

If the elected official you are inviting has been supportive of transgender causes, consider how you might say thank you. For example, consider giving a certificate of appreciation or an award.

If your local politicians have not been supportive, think of ways to help them change their positions. Use the opportunity to educate them about the discrimination that trans people face and helping them learn accurate and positive information about their trans constituents. You want to inspire them to be courageous and open minded when dealing with our issues. Remember, too, that people rarely change their positions because of direct confrontation; education works much better.

To invite an elected official, fax or mail a letter to their office, requesting their presence. State clearly who you are, what group you represent, what are you are asking from them, and briefly why you think their presence will be important. Be clear about whether you have a firm date in mind (for example, if you would like them to speak at an already scheduled conference or a Day of Remembrance observance) or if you are flexible about when this might take place. Be clear, too, about what you are asking (for example, would you like the person to give a 15 minute speech or sit down for an hour strategy session with community leaders?). Give plenty of lead time before you want to hold the event and remember that politicians have very busy schedules. Follow up with a phone call about a week after their offices receive the letter. Polite and persistent follow up is the most effective.

Be sure to publicize your event widely, both within our community and, if appropriate, to the media. Be as thorough as you can be in your set up, making sure that there are microphones, if needed, bottled water, and so on. Designate one person to meet your guest at the door and escort her or him to the front, and make sure that someone is prepared to introduce the elected official and to moderate questions, if needed.

Afterwards, send a thank you note to the politician and to any staff member who helped you with the arrangements. That will help you establish an on-going relationship with them.

 

#6: Plan an Art Show of Works by Trans Artists

Jordy Jones, artist and event producer writes, “In the last few years, there has been a great proliferation of transgender visibility in the media. Mainstream representations of trans-people are on the increase. From the Discovery channel to daytime television, the images and lives of real trans-people pull in viewers curious for a glimpse of these ‘exotic’ life forms. Sympathetic representations by Hilary Swank, Felicity Huffman and other non-trans-people draw praise from trans and non-trans groups alike. As sympathetic as some of these representations may be, they still cannot have the immediacy, resonance and clarity of vision as work by trans artists can. Why ask Maury…or even Felicity what it is like to be trans when you can go the source? Plan an art show of works by trans artists and help further transgender equality.”

You can inspire your local community and give visibility to trans artists by holding an art show. Ask local artists if they will help you identify a venue to hold the event and plan it. Make sure that you think about how to keep the art work safe. Publicize it well and consider holding a special event for the opening of the show. You can include widely varying types of art, including paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, prints, film, spoken word and more.

Consider this inspiring, and beautiful, way to further transgender equality.

 

#7: Create and publicize a calendar of local events and encourage people to attend them

Ever feel frustrated when you just heard about a great event that happened last weekend? Wonder how newcomers could be better served in finding out about community happenings? Want to show community members, politicians, funders and others all of the things that are going on in your area? Here’s a great way to get the word about events in your area:

Create a calendar of all the transgender related events happening in your local community. That makes it much easier for people to find all of the events that might interest or help them and builds a sense of unity among the different groups. Having this kind of information readily available makes things more convenient for everyone and provides newcomers with an easy way to get involved and informed.

If you organize a calendar on your webpage or your group’s webpage, it also drives traffic to your site from people who might not have visited before. It can raise your group’s profile in your local area and help you be seen as an organization that serves the community.

There are a number of software programs available that can help you build a calendar for either print or a webpage. Many of them are easy to use and may already be on your computer (check for calendar templates on your word processing, webpage or publishing software). Contact groups in your area and ask them to send you the dates of their meetings, social events and conferences, along with contact information and a link to their websites. Then put them together to form a community calendar.

To give you some ideas and get you started, here are a couple of examples of community groups that are doing this:

Then encourage people you know to support the events in your community.

 

#8: Start an online community or a blog that deals with an issue that is important to you

The internet has created so many new ways for people, including transgender people, to connect. The world of blogs provides an avenue for new voices to be heard and opinions to be shared with others.

You can create a blog easily through many different portals available on the internet. You can set up a blog for just you or create a space for others in the community to share their perspectives. You can also create bulletin boards on a website for people to dialogue about their ideas or set up an e-mail list serve that covers a topic you’d like to talk about. With all of these, you’ll need to keep up with them to be sure that content stays current and that folks a topic to talk about in order to keep your presence vibrant.

An excellent example is the website, www.myhusbandbetty.com, run by Helen Boyd who is the wife of NCTE Board Member Betty Crow. The myhusbandbetty.com site includes blogs, message boards, and regular columns from Helen.

Speaking about her experience, Helen comments, “Although Betty and I first created www.myhusbandbetty.com for the sake of publicity, we've been pleased to see both the blog and the message boards on the site thrive. The message boards provide a useful place for interaction, nearly a think tank, and in fact have been part & parcel of an in-person monthly group forming here in NYC. Other people on the boards have met when they travel, on business trips, and at conferences. My blog has shown up everywhere from pro-choice websites to queerday.com - which means that many feminists and queer folk of all stripes know somewhere they can learn more about trans issues. Online communities end up facilitating not only in-person communities, but make transness more visible to other sympathetic people online. It takes a lot of work to moderate the boards and write the blog, but increasing trans visibility on the ‘net is worth the effort.”

What do you have to say to the world? Consider creating an online community to lift up your voice as well as the lives of others.

 

#9: Change the Policy of an Organization You Belong To

Many of us belong to organizations—neighborhood groups, professional associations, labor unions, hobby clubs and more. One way to further transgender equality is to add policies that protect people from discrimination based on gender identity and expression or make clear that transgender people are welcome in your group.

If the organization has an existing non-discrimination policy, propose that gender identity and expression be added to it. If the organization doesn't have a relevant policy, than put forward language that includes other categories as well.

Recently, Nick Gorton, Kevin Maxey, and Arlene Vernon helped make such a change. These three physicians are all members of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and submitted a resolution to change ACEP's Code of Ethics for Emergency Physicians. Their resolution was passed and the new ACEP Code of Ethics reads: “Emergency physicians should act fairly toward all persons who rely on the ED for unscheduled episodic care. They should respect and seek to understand people from many cultures and from diverse socioeconomic groups …. Provision of emergency medical treatment should not be based on gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, real or perceived gender identity, or cultural background. No patient should ever be abused, demeaned, or given substandard care.”

This could make a significant difference in the quality of care you receive if you need to visit an emergency department.

 

#10: Donate money to an organization providing direct services for transgender people

The money you donate to organizations is critical to their ability to provide services for our community. Because you give, organizations are able to make a tangible difference in trans people’s lives—drafting new legislation to protect our rights, reaching out to youth, providing answers to legal questions, doing HIV prevention, creating social events where we can come together and celebrate who we are, dressed as we want to dress, and much, much more. The donations you make to trans organizations can help our community thrive, be healthy and grow.

You may never have received a request from an organization asking for your support for other groups, but we believe that we are all in this together. Whatever we do to support our community strengthens us all.

Plus, giving money makes us feel good, recognizing ourselves as generous people, supporting a cause that is important to us. A little or a lot … any amount can help the community.

Some ideas to get you started …

Donate to your local support group or an advocacy organization doing work in your community.

Wherever you give, know that it is making a difference in the lives of people in our community. If you want some general information about making charitable donations, click here for an article from the Better Business Bureau.

 

#11: Hold a workshop on how to effectively advocate for yourself when seeking medical care or therapy

One of the real challenges that transgender people face is accessing appropriate health care. Sometimes it is difficult to find a physician or therapist in the area we live in, but other times we delay care because of our anxieties about whether we will be treated well.

We can learn to be good consumers of medical care, knowing the rights that we have when we walk into a doctor’s office and learning ways to interact with medical personnel that are helpful to us. You can help your community by holding a workshop on how to access medical care and therapy. You can invite a local physician, therapist, social worker, nurse practitioner or other provider who has a proven track record of community support to come and speak to your group. Ask them to focus on issues such as how and when to disclose about your transgender status, how to advocate for yourself as a patient, and how to prepare for a visit.

Daniel Gould, Director of Health Programs for FTM Alliance of Los Angeles, coordinated a program recently on Accessing Health Care. He commented, “Accessing quality medical care is such a critical issue for the trans community. From the research we've done, we know that people's ability to advocate for themselves can make a huge difference in their health. We believe in empowering our community by teaching people their rights and helping them learn ways that they can be effective in working with medical providers. It has been incredibly rewarding to work on this project.”

The FTM Alliance website includes data from their Health Access Survey that identifies barriers that transmen face when seeking healthcare.

 

#12: Ask Your Local Film Festival to Show Trans Themed Movies and then Go See Them

There are some great new movies showing at film festivals around the world, including some with positive and poignant portrayals of trans people. You can make sure that more people get to see trans themed movies by asking the organizers of your local film festival to show them. You can also find movies that are playing near you and organize a community group to go see them and lend your support. Not sure where to find a film festival? Go to www.filmfestivals .com where you can search for one.

Two movies you don’t want to miss are:

  • Cruel & Unusual, a documentary about trans women who are incarcerated in men’s prisons around the country, denied access to medical and psychological treatment and subject to violence. You can find out more about it at www.cruelandunusualfilm.com. The film was made by Janet Baus, Dan Hunt and Reid Williams.
  • Screaming Queens, which tells the story of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots in 1966 in San Francisco. Three years before the Stonewall Riots, transgender women and gay hustlers fought back against police harassment. More info is available at www.comptonscafeteriariot.org. The filmmakers are Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman.

Filmmaker Reid Williams says of his experiences with Cruel & Unusual, “We just had our first screenings in Austin, Texas to a predominately mixed crowd. It confirmed my belief that a personal story can push someone to connect on a deeper level to someone's experience. I was amazed at the compassionate and thoughtful questions people asked after watching the film. We have so much to teach, and I think film is a wonderful way to make this happen.”

If this inspires you, maybe you’ll want to consider making a movie of your own as well. Whether it is your movie or someone else’s, support trans equality at the movies!

 

#13: Support the Day of Silence

On April 26, students around the country will take part in a Day of Silence, a program sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Student/Educators Network (GLSEN). The Day of Silence began in 1996 at the University of Virginia with students determined to raise awareness about the ways in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students were silenced by prejudice based on gender identity and sexual orientation. In the last decade, students at thousands of schools have taken part by remaining silent for a day.

Riley Snorton, a member of NCTE’s Board of Directors is a staff member at GLSEN. He notes, “This is the tenth anniversary of the Day of Silence and it looks like more students than ever will be participating this year. This is already the largest student-led action on LGBT issues that happens in this country and has ever happened in American history. I think it is so important that we draw attention to the kinds of harassment and silencing that students face regularly in schools because of their gender identity and expression.”

You can find a resource manual, posters and lots of information at the Day of Silence website at www.dayofsilence.org. Start planning now to make a statement with your silence on April 26.

 

#14: Preach or speak at a local community of faith, such as a synagogue, church or mosque

April is a month of many religious festivals—you can commemorate the births of Buddha, Muhammad or Rama and celebrate Passover, Easter, Beltane and Baisakhi. Trans people practice the many religions of our world. Whatever your spiritual practice, if you are involved in a community of faith, consider talking to your community about transgender issues.

You might want to preach a sermon or give a short testimony about your experience as a transgender person, significant other, or ally. Another idea is to suggest a book, article or reading for a discussion group. You might organize a speaker to come do a trans 101 training for your community. Talk to the leader of your temple, mosque or church to get ideas about what might be appropriate. If you are able to speak to a gathering, your religious leader can also help you as you prepare your remarks.

Justin Tanis, NCTE staff member and author of Transgendered Ministry, Theology and Communities of Faith (Pilgrim Press, 2003), comments, “People need to hear our voices as transgender people. We have learned important things spiritually from our journeys of self-discovery. The fact that we dig deeper than the obvious about our bodies in learning about ourselves helps us to go below the surface spiritually as well. It is a powerful thing to hear our stories from pulpits and spiritual spaces.”

Other excellent spiritual resources to check out are:

  • Made in God’s Image: A Resource for Dialogue about the Church and Gender Differences (Reconciling Ministries Network, 2003), by Ann Thompson Cook
  • Transgender Journeys (Pilgrim Press, 2003), by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and Vanessa Sheridan

So, bring trans liberation to your community of faith.

 

#15: Adopt a Highway

You know those signs along the highway that tell you the group that volunteered to pick up trash along the road? Why not use them to raise our visibility? A group in Georgia did just that. Our column this week is written by Monica Helms, who organized the effort there.

highway signIn possibly every state of the country, the Department of Transportation has a program where you can Adopt a Highway to clean up every three months, or so. The picture you see is an actual sign of the mile adopted by the entire Transgender Community of GA. The Georgia DOT did not have any issues giving it to the community, or with having the word "Transgender" on it. The attitudes and procedures can vary from state to state, but it never hurts to try.

This effort not only gives transgender people more positive visibility, but it shows that we are just as proud of the places where we live as every other person there. Adopting a Highway educates people and gives your community credibility in a way that you cannot otherwise buy. The clean up days can also foster stronger ties within the community and can be turned into a special gathering.

If at all possible, do your best to have the word “Transgender” appear on the sign and avoid acronyms that the general pubic will not know or relate to. After all, we are trying to educate the public, as well as keep our community clean. And, please be careful out there.

Thanks to you, Monica, and all of the other activists out there who are creatively making a difference for transgender people

 

#16: Hold a Trans Pride event in your community

Wouldn’t it be great to have an event in your community to celebrate our pride in being transgender? If your community has an event like this, attend and support it. If not, organize one! It can be large or small, complex or simple—plan an event that makes sense for your community. But no matter what the logistics are, plan an event that gives people an opportunity to celebrate who we are as transgender people.

Some things you might want to consider: holding workshops on topics our community needs to hear about—from legal rights to fashion; showcasing trans entertainers and artists; having a speaker who can set a positive and exciting tone; food and fun. Plan to include a diverse group of people in the organizing process so that your event truly represents the local community.

These events can be an important time to encourage and challenge each other to be the best community we can be. San Diego just held their Trans Day of Empowerment and Masen Davis, NCTE Board Member and co-founder of FTM Alliance of Los Angeles, delivered the keynote address. In his remarks, he said,

“I believe that change is not just possible—it is inevitable. I believe that the challenges that face our community today can become extinct. That if we can believe in a world where trans people are fully embraced; where we have access to quality, culturally competent healthcare; where we have quality education and gainful employment; where all trans people, regardless of ethnicity, age or sex, can be whole people with full lives … then we can begin to create that very world.

“You see, we as transgender people are experts at creating something out of a mere belief! We believed we were different, that we could be something beyond what others could see or understand; and we became what we knew to be true and right for us. If we can do that for ourselves, then we can do that for our world.

“I’m not saying that this will be easy. We are still at the beginning of a long trek to equality. But if we can believe in the possibility—and the inevitability—of a better world for transgender people, then we can begin to create a better future for all of us.”

Hold an event in your community to show the world, and each other, that we are proud to be trans and that we can and will change the world.

 

#17: March as a trans contingent in the Gay Pride Parade

June is the month when many communities hold LGBT pride events, marking the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City when trans and gay people stood up to the police in 1968. While certainly not the first queer resistance to police harassment, the Stonewall Riots helped spread the message of liberation and galvanized people around the world to say no to oppression.

Consider organizing a trans contingent to participate in Pride. While trans people come in all sexual orientations, this is another opportunity to show that we are a visible and proud part of all of our communities, including the LGBT community. Think about what message you want to give to the crowd—what do you want people to understand about who we are? Then create a float, a walking contingent or other display to get that message across.

Albuquerque Pride co-coordinator, and ally of our community, Pat Baillie comments, “We have a strong transgender contingent every year in the parade and booths for FTM and MTF information sponsored by local transgender groups who are out and proud. This year we will honor one of our transgender activists as our Honored Dignitary—Political, Virginia Stephenson. Her political activism and work for transgender rights are key reasons why New Mexico has equal anti-discrimination and hate crime protections under the law for both sexual orientation and gender identity. This year we will also dedicate a memorial where our first Pride events were held and we proudly add the "T" in our GLBT community to honor those who have come out and made our world a more diverse and inclusive place.”

Congratulations to Virginia, who is a member of NCTE’s Board of Advisors and a founding NCTE member. More information on her award can be found at Albuquerque Pride.

You can find Pride events in your area, plus additional resources, on the Interpride website.

 

#18: Educate a local homeless shelter about how to be trans inclusive

Homeless shelters can be very challenging places for those who need them; this is especially true for transgender people. Most shelters are gender segregated and many do not have policies that deal with issues of gender identity and expression. Yet studies have shown that as many as 1 in 5 transgender people may need the assistance of a shelter, due to our community’s high level of under- or unemployment and the disruption of networks of family and friends.

Helping a shelter develop trans-inclusive and supportive policies could be one of the most important actions we take. It will certainly help preserve the dignity and well-being of a trans person and it may even save a life by ensuring access to a safe shelter environment.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless issued a resource last year called Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People. The report, authored by NCTE Board of Advisor’s steering committee member Lisa Mottet and John Ohle, includes very specific information about how to work with shelters to change policies and make shelters respectful and safe places for all people. It has been used by shelters across the country that provide services for the homeless and for those displaced by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.

The report says, “The bottom line is that transgender people should be treated with respect. Their freedom to define themselves through self-identification and expression should be honored in every way, including in the language that staff use to refer to them as well as with their housing, bathroom, and shower placement . . . The clear consequences of a rule that makes surgery the dividing line between who gets gender-appropriate shelter and who does not means that most transgender people will never get gender-appropriate shelter and treatment. Knowing how important it is for the emotional and physical safety of transgender people to have their gender identities respected, treating people according to the gender they self-identify—the policy of respect—is the only humane option.”

You can download a free copy of this important resource at www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/TransHomeless.pdf

You can also get more information about homelessness and the trans community on our website by clicking here.

Work with your local shelter to ensure that it is a place where trans people find safety and respect when they need its services.

 

#19: Pass a non-discrimination ordinance in your community

Communities across the country have been passing laws which protect people from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Anti-discrimination legislation can include housing, employment, public accommodation and more. Both large and small municipalities have passed these laws; in recent months, states like Vermont and Hawaii, cities such as Bloomington, Indiana and smaller towns like the Borough of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania have all passed measures to ban discrimination.

If your area doesn’t have an anti-discrimination law that includes gender identity and expression, work to pass one. It is important to have language that will work legally, so contact the Transgender Civil Rights Project at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to get more information about legislation and further assistance.

“In the past five years we’ve gone from 5% of the country to over 30% of the country covered by trans-inclusive laws directly through the efforts of grassroots activists,” notes Lisa Mottet of the Transgender Civil Rights Project. “It is easier than people think, even for people with no previous political experience. We can provide you with all of the tools you need, whether you are just starting the effort or are well on your way to finishing the process. We encourage you to contact us and we can provide you with assistance through the whole process.”

You can contact the Transgender Civil Rights Project at lmottet@thetaskforce.org or call 202-639-6308. More information about the project is available on their website at Transgender Civil Rights Project.

Enacting legal protections for transgender people is an important step towards transgender equality. Work in your community to pass to trans-inclusive legislation today.

 

#20: Visit the offices of your congressional representative and educate them about trans issues

Today, transgender activists are gathered in Washington for NCTE’s annual Lobby Days and will have more than 30 meetings with members of Congress and their staff. Educating Congress about the issues faced by transgender people and the need for federal legislation to protect our rights is critical to our movement. Every year, NCTE organizes a day for transgender and gender non-conforming people to educate our elected representatives in Washington, DC, along with a day of training for every participant. People have gathered from as far away as states like California and Ohio as well as from the region surrounding our nation’s capital.

You, too, can educate Congress. It is important that they hear from you and other transgender constituents and allies who live and work in the area they represent. Members of Congress have offices both in their home districts as well as here in Washington and you can visit either one.

A complete resource guide, Making Your Voice Heard: A Transgender Guide to Educating Congress, is available to download on our website at Making Your Voice Heard. This resource gives you everything you need to know from how to make an appointment, to the meeting itself, to following up afterwards. It includes practical tips on issues like what to wear, who to bring and how to prepare. Call your Senators and Representative today to set up an appointment. If you aren’t sure who they are, follow this link and enter your zip code at the bottom of the page to find out.

Edy Vee, who has come from Nevada to meet with her representatives today, says she is doing it because, “I feel we are turning an important corner for TG legislation.” We believe she is absolutely right and that the work of activists around the country, people like you, is making the difference.

 

#21: Start a local support or education group

Support and education groups are often a vital way that trans people connect with one another. In groups, we find information, people with similar experiences and much-needed encouragement. Yet some places do not have a local group like this. So, this week’s idea is:

When considering starting a group, consider:

  • Are there existing groups that already meet this need?
  • What is the specific purpose of this new group?
  • What format or structure will best help this group thrive?
  • How can I let as many people know about this group as possible?

If you’ve never done something like this before, there are books available and a number of websites that describe how to start a group. I asked Patric Magee, founder of a group for FTMs in Orange County, California, to describe his experiences. He said: “… I’ve not felt the need for therapy since my initial transition 15 years ago, however I’ve found that the bonding experience and time spent in the company of fellow transmen was something that I was not willing to part with either. The energy and emotions of being in a room filled with people who truly understand me, that share many of my unusual life experiences, and offer support and resources was still needed in my life. We are the experts in this game, not the professionals. If you want to know what needs to be done or what something is like, you have to go talk with someone who has walked in those shoes. It was only a natural progression for me to want to return the favor of guidance and support to the new men. I had benefited so much from those who came before me.

“…in 2000 … I decided to found a group for transmen and called it OCFTM …. I wanted to make an FTM-friendly space that dealt with our issues, men’s issues. A place where transmen could be heard and not just occasionally seen. I wanted a safe place for men to go where they could access resources, networking and support. Meetings start with a trans news and community activities update and then go to an open rap, usually with a featured topic and/or guest speaker, or gender-related movie or show(s). OCFTM also hosts an annual beach party and picnic and has had some other special activities and functions. Monthly meetings are open to all including those who are questioning or curious, significant others, family, and sometimes even researchers. I want it to be about sharing and educating, not hiding or being ashamed of who we are.

“These experiences have taught me that things don’t ‘just get done’ and all the good intentions and good advice don’t cut it alone when creating a ‘community’ out of a group of people with a shared experience. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and a willingness to sit alone in an empty room wondering if anyone else is going to show up. It has involved countless hours and lots of reminders to people who already have tremendously busy lives and schedules. It requires patience and being asked over and over to provide an activity that the majority do not end up showing up to. But they seem to just feel better knowing that it exists though.

“In the end though, I must honestly admit, I’m really quite selfish. The personal gratification I receive from my efforts, the rewards of sharing or being there for another, is so much more than I could ever hope to give. Making a difference, even if only by making one person’s life a little bit better, a little bit easier, is more than enough for me.”

So, if your local community does not have a support or education group, consider starting one.

 

#22: Volunteer with an LGBT Advocacy group

Building bridges with our allies is an important part of our movement for equal rights. It shows our commitment to civil rights for all people and helps raise the visibility of trans people in other movements. So, this week’s idea is to volunteer with an LGBT advocacy group.

There are many groups that use the acronym LGBT to show that their mission includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Some of these groups are very inclusive of transgender people and understand the connections between our issues, while others have simply added a “T” to their name, but little else. By volunteering with an LGBT group, you can help them to honor the “T” in their name and raise awareness of the issues of gender identity and expression. For groups that truly do understand, you can affirm their stance and participate in their programs. For those that are “T” in name only, you may change that with your presence.

We can also help people understand the challenges we have in common. Some lesbian, gay and bisexual people face oppression because of their gender expression—they are seen as breaking society’s rules of what male and female “ought” to be. By participating in LGBT groups, we can raise awareness that everyone should be free to express their gender without fear of violence or discrimination.

In many places, hate crimes bills and anti-discrimination ordinances are being passed with both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression protections. Building bridges with the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities can be helpful to us in forging coalitions to be sure that we are included in civil rights bills.

Volunteering with an LGBT group can be a lot of fun and an opportunity for you to learn skills from another organization.

Two places to start:

So, whatever your sexual orienation may be, consider volunteering somewhere in your community!

 

#23: Start a Speakers' Bureau

An important way to educate people about our lives is to talk to them. Many of the challenges that we face exist because people have mistaken stereotypes or inaccurate information about transgender people. Presenting accurate information and real life stories can change people’s hearts and minds about who we are. Therefore, this week’s idea is:

Create a Speakers’ Bureau.

A speakers’ bureau consists of people who are prepared to go and speak with groups about transgender issues. You want to include people who are comfortable with themselves and their journey and able to speak clearly about the issues. You also want folks who are able to deal with audience members who might be uncomfortable with transgender people without getting defensive or feeling personally attacked. It is important to train speakers so that people feel confident and are effective when they go out to talk with groups.

You may have members of your community who are regularly called upon to speak to college classes, the police force and other groups. You may want to ask the people who are doing an effective job at education in your local area to be a part of training new speakers.

Transgender Michigan has the policies and procedures for their speakers' bureau available on their website. You can read it here. This is an excellent place to start to think about how you might want to structure a group in your local area.

 

#24: Break a Gender Rule

Liberation comes on all levels—political, social, economic—but let’s not forget the personal as well, because what we do personally does make an impact in the big picture. This week, we are encouraging you to exercise your freedom to be yourself.

In particular, this week we suggest: #24 Break a Gender Rule.

Now, some of us do this just by existing. We just can’t manage to be stereotypical boys or girls, women or men, and we don’t want to be. But for others of us, this is a little more challenging.

The rules of our society that tell us how to behave “appropriately” as women or men constrain us all. Social and cultural cues tell us that men have to dress, act, and speak in a hard, masculine way, while women are to be feminine and soft. There’s not much room for individuality there. But we as trans people, significant others, and allies know that we don’t have to play by the rules all the time. So, this week, be a little subversive; in some time or place that feels right to you, do something that messes with the rules.

Women, you might remind people that you do one heck of an oil change, rope a steer with the best of them, or know the rules of football better than your old man. Men, you might whip up a delicate soufflé, pet a cute dog or even skip a little. Or why not mix it up? Whip up that soufflé in a football jersey! Watch the game in a satin gown! After all, masculinity and femininity aren’t mutually exclusive. Those of you who don’t fit the above categories, just keep right on proudly being yourselves.

You might find you enjoy bending the rules more than you expected—by all means, then, don’t stop after this week! After all, freedom includes the right to be who we are as individuals, with the gender(s) that feels right to us. So exercise that freedom this week!

 

#25: Make a Restroom More Accessible to Trans People

Recently I walked into the offices of a very transgender-friendly group, and yet there was still a restroom problem. There were two single use restrooms, one labeled for men, the other for women. When I pointed it out, they said that they thought transgender people could just use whichever one they felt comfortable with. They were very flexible about restroom usage but hadn’t thought through what their signs conveyed.

The Transgender Law Center has a great resource on bathroom issues called, “Peeing in Peace: A Resource Guide for Transgender Activists and Allies.” It has a wealth of information on everything from how to handle difficult situations in restrooms to how to take action to make policy changes. You can go to their website go to their website and click on the box marked “Peeing in Peace” or follow the link above to view or download download the whole document or a summary.

This issue is important because we need safe places to use the restrooms and because it challenges the assumption that everyone fits neatly into a category. When agencies, schools, and groups make clear that their restrooms are safe places for transpeople, they send a message that they are genuinely welcoming to trans people, they’ve considered our needs and planned ahead for our participation.

The group I mentioned at the beginning has already started talking to the other agencies they share space with about their intentions to change the signs. This week, let’s take steps to make restrooms more accessible to trans people.

 

#26: Locate Support Services

Trans people are often unaware of the resources that are available to them. Knowing what is out there can help people access services they need and helps them to feel that they are part of a vibrant community.

Start by compiling a list of all of the services that you are aware of. Think of support groups, medical services, columns in local papers etc. After you have all that you know about down on paper, begin to search the internet, ask other people for groups and services that they know about and keep building your list.

Once you have made a list, think through how you want to organize it and how people will be able to access it. You will probably want to put it on a website as well as make paper copies available. You may also want to translate it into Spanish or other languages that are appropriate in your area. Update it regularly so the information stays current.

To get you started, here are some good examples:

  • TG Crossroads has an extensive list by state; here is the main resources page.
  • New York City: Sylvia Rivera Law Project has a list of referrals presented as a PDF here, easy to read and easy to print out.
  • Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders has a referral list for New England that includes a number of national organizations as well.
  • Here's a resource list from www.gendercrash.com, a website with political and art pages as well as support info.
  • Los Angeles-based FTM Alliance resource list, showing an innovative way to organize the information, including a good list of doctors.
  • Here's another list, this one from the University of California at San Francisco, compiled by Health Studies for People of Color.

As you can see, your list can be local, state-wide, regional or national in scope. There are several different ways of organizing the information, as well as formats that are primarily web-based and those that will be easier to print out.

However you organize it, making a list will make life much easier for trans people who are just coming out and those who are new to your community, as well as folks who have been around a while, but just need help finding something.

 

#27: Collaborate with another group on a community project or social event.

It’s a simple fact: we can accomplish more when we work together than when we work alone. Collaboration can increase our creativity, multiply our resources, reach additional people and make an event more fun.

There are so many forms this collaboration could take, and the list of potential people to work with is nearly endless when you consider the number of trans, ally, and other community organizations at work in your city or state. And think about partnering both with groups under and outside of the Transgender umbrella.

For example, if you’re part of a primarily male-to- female identified group, try partnering with the local female-to-male group. If you’re part of a cross- dressers organization, think about partnering with a nearby genderqueer or radical third-gender group.

If you’re involved with a trans advocacy or support group, try joining efforts with a non-trans organization working on issues that impact your town like racial justice, youth empowerment, reproductive health, disability access, neighborhood renewal and clean-up. The list of possibilities goes on and on.

What about holding a joint social event with another group in your area so members can mingle and get to know new people? If there are groups active in improving your neighborhood, what about planning a project together? Partnering with non-trans organizations on a joint project is a wonderful and meaningful way for non-trans people to get to know you can have a broader impact where you live. Maybe there are events already planned in your city, like street fairs or other local celebrations that a group you are active in can co-sponsor or help to produce.

Think about the multitude of ways you can join your energies with other activists and community groups— both trans and non-trans groups—to make an impact. By getting to know each other, you widen your pool of allies and make a difference in your community. The possibilities are endless.

So this week, pick a project, reach out to others, and collaborate!

 

#28: Work to Pass a Nondiscrimination Policy at Your Workplace

We know that being able to find and maintain meaningful employment is a critical issue for the wellbeing of the transgender community. A majority of Americans—61 percent—agree that transgender people should have workplace protections, according to a 2002 poll done for the Human Rights Campaign foundation. Yet slightly less than a third of Americans live in a jurisdiction with laws that ban employment discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

It is certainly possible—81 of the Fortune 500 companies now include gender identity or expression in their non-discrimination policies along with many other companies and non-profit groups—and the number of workplaces with such policies is growing all the time.

Becky Allison, MD, comments about why it is important to have workplace protections: “I have practiced cardiology with CIGNA since 1994. It has been a very good experience, and I have enjoyed the full support of my administration. Until recently, however, there was always a possibility that a new administrator might disapprove of my transition history, and my job would be in jeopardy. I am grateful to CIGNA for adding ‘gender identity’ to their non-discrimination policy.”

In addition to NCTE, there are a number of resources to help you with workplace issues including:

By working with your employer to add gender identity and expression to their non-discrimination policies, you can make a significant difference in the lives of transgender people. Not only does it address potential problems at work, it also sends a vital message that transgender people are valued as employees at that company or agency.

 

#29: Connect with PFLAG!

Having a transgender family member has a tremendous impact on our parents, children, spouses, siblings and others. PFLAG-Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays-is a wonderful group for family members and also a place where we can find support for ourselves. PFLAG has a Transgender Network that has great resources specifically for us and for our families.

Judy Hoff, a PFLAG staff member, tells us, "We have a wide-ranging network of resources for the families and friends of transgender folks around the country who have their own transitions to navigate when a loved one comes out trans. Our network includes on-line support groups for trans youth, e-support groups for parents and spouses/significant others, and a newsletter that just went to electronic format this year and is being sent out to about 300 people across the country every other month. We encourage interested folks to sign up to get the newsletter by going to the PFLAG web site and clicking on the link to sign up for the weekly update. The next screen gives an option to sign up for TNET publications. Click on that and you're in! The TNET website has now been incorporated into the National PFLAG site."

Dave Parker, President PFLAG Transgender Network, adds, "Families of transgender individuals need the same sort of support that PFLAG has always provided for parents and friends of GLB people. They need to know that they can discuss their feelings in a safe, confidential environment with others who have experienced or are experiencing the loss of expectations that come with an announcement of some form of gender variance.

"PFLAG chapters offer an opportunity for transgender folks to meet accepting and supporting families. They also offer an opportunity to work with the nation's leading grass-roots support, education, and advocacy organization for parents, families, and friends of the GLBT community.

"As one mother put it, 'They really were there for me by phone and internet when I needed them the most. They connected me with a wonderful transwoman after I found out about my son. They also helped my son obtain health insurance after he was rejected due to his trans status'."

Thanks to the folks from TNET and PFLAG for all of their years of support. This week, check out their website and make use of their resources!

 

#30 Write a regular column for a publication

People understand us better when they know more about our experiences and hear our perspectives. Columns and guest commentary pieces in newspapers and online media sources are great ways to express opinions and distribute information on transgender issues from a variety of voices.

So this week's idea is write a regular column for a publication.

Joanne Herman, a member of NCTE's Board of Advisors, writes a column each month for the Advocate.com, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) publication. She says, "When non-transgender friends would hear the story of my gender transition, invariably I'd be told, 'Wow, you should write a book about it!' But I sincerely doubted my ability to write a book that would be better and more interesting than some of the books already out there. Meanwhile, I kept finding that gay, lesbian and bisexual people-contrary to what one might have been told-were very interested in learning more about what it means to be transgender. But they weren't so interested that they would sit down and read an entire book about it. So the idea for a column on Advocate.com was born-a collection of bite-size chunks to make the learning easier to digest. I'm now convinced that columns are a great way to reach any group of people outside of the transgender community about a topic (being transgender) that is often overwhelming in its entirety." You can read all of Joanne's Advocate.com columns on her website, www.joanneherman.com.

There are many media outlets you can consider approaching, or "pitching" in PR lingo, for a column-mainstream newspapers, alternative weeklies, queer community papers, magazines, professional publications, Web sites, blogs and more. Think about all of the publications you read that might be a good fit for your writing. If you are interested in writing a column, here are some pointers from NCTE's Deputy Director, Simon Aronoff:

  • Send a letter or email to the editor-in-chief of the publication proposing ("pitching") a regular/semi-regular column on transgender issues. Be sure to include any relevant experience you have as a writer or as a transgender advocate, as well as a brief list of potential column topics.
  • Follow up with a phone call to gauge the editor's interest. Suggest a desk-side meeting at her/his office to discuss your vision for the column or invite the editor to coffee.
  • Offer to send a "sample" or first installment for review so they can really get a feel for your work.
  • Consider offering to write for the publication's Web site if the editor isn't able to find space in the print publication. You may be surprised to learn that Advocate.com has a larger readership than the print magazine.
  • Make the deal. Be sure to negotiate whether or not your column will be exclusive to the publication or if it can be printed elsewhere. Determine if you'll be paid for your work or if the column will be a labor of love.

Local LGBT publications are often eager for content, so they may well be interested in your pitch. As Joanne notes from her experiences: "Of course, not every publication is going to leap at the prospect of having a transgender column, especially if they don't know you or your writing. So I recommend using your connections - something that might make the publication comfortable taking a chance on you. There's a lot of curiosity outside of the transgender community just waiting to be satisfied. Take advantage of it."

If you can't write a regular column, consider placing a stand-alone article. Whatever you do, we hope to see you in print soon!

 

#31: Plan to Come out on National Coming Out Day on October 11
- August 1, 2006

The personal is political—the individual actions that we take can have an amazing impact on our movement for transgender equality. One very effective way to counter prejudice is to “come out” and tell people about your gender identity or the fact that you are a trans ally, friend or family member. Many people just aren’t aware that they know a person who is transgender or someone who is a parent, significant other or sibling of a transgender person. Coming out, or telling someone about your identity, is critical to the success of our movement. Coming out can be a challenging—and very liberating—step in our lives. Many people in our community, for good reason, are anxious about telling people in their lives that they are transgender. There are many, many benefits to being out, including the sense of relief of not having secrets from the people you love.

If you’re active in a gender group or organization, you can organize programs to help people during this process. You might hold a class on how to talk about being transgender or plan a support group specifically for people who are in the coming out process. You can also host a celebration for people who have come out in the past year or plan a Coming Out Day Party on October 11. Start planning now to get the word out to people in your community.

You can also use National Coming Out Day as a political opportunity to talk with your legislators and other government leaders about the needs of their transgender constituents. Tell them who you are and encourage them to support civil rights legislation and protections for transgender people. Better yet, organize a group of people to go and “come out” at the same time.

As always, think through carefully what feels safe and effective for you personally. Coming out is a very individual process and we encourage you to do what feels right for you.

Here are some resources that can help:

  • Human Rights Campaign’s Coming Out resources. There are specific pages about coming out as transgender here, and if you click here, you’ll find resources in Spanish, materials for African-Americans and information about coming out to your community of faith.
  • The National Black Justice Coalition is in the middle of a campaign called Black Out 2006 to find 2,006 Black LGBT and same gender loving people in every state to come out this year. You can read more about this groundbreaking campaign here.

However you choose to celebrate this National Coming Out Day—whether you choose to come out to a close friend or if you plan to have a roaring loud and proud party—we hope you’ll have a liberating day on October 11, 2006!

 

#32: Register New Voters!
August 7, 2006

Last week, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act (VRA) of 2006 was signed into law. This continues the vital work of the civil rights movement to ensure equal access to voting. Each vote does matter. Sometimes elections are so close that a handful of votes decide the winner. Voting is an important way for trans people and our allies to participate in our society.

Be creative: You might make it your goal to register everyone in your gender support group; or register everyone in your family; or everyone in your apartment building; register all the folks at your Wednesday poker night/knitting circle/yoga class; or do a "get out the vote" effort at your favorite trans/gender night club monthly event. There are a number of easy ways you can do this.

A national voter registration form is available for the majority of the country (North Dakota, Wyoming and New Hampshire do not participate in this program). The form can be downloaded, photocopied and distributed along with the instructions. You can find the form and more information on the United States Election Assistance Commission's website. The page and form are available in Spanish. For Puerto Rico, contact La Comisión Estatal de Elecciones.

You can also add a link to your website so that people can register to vote online. There are great resources at www.rockthevote.com. The site includes a direct link to an online voter registration page that you can add to your website, such as the one on the left-hand side of this page. They also list the deadlines for voter registration by state.

You can get paper copies of the voter registration forms for your state by contacting your county clerk or your state Board of Elections. You can find their numbers on the state government website and in your phone book. There is specific information about the rules for non-profits conducting voter registration drives on the IRS website. It is very important to keep in mind that while you are registering people to vote, you cannot display any materials that endorse any political parties or specific candidates for office. You must remain neutral. You also must turn in the forms promptly after people have given them to you.

You can also educate transgender voters about how to overcome voting obstacles by distributing this information from NCTE. It includes information about trans-specific obstacles to voting and more general problems people encounter at the polls, plus information about what to do if you have a problem while voting. Information about the rights of elderly and disabled voters is available here.

Obstacles can often be overcome. For example, people with a felony conviction should not assume that they cannot vote. In some states, following completion of probation, voting rights are automatically restored. Check with your state elections commission. The fact that some members of our community cannot vote makes it all the more important that those of us who can vote do so.

So, make a plan this month to register voters in September and then encourage people to go to the polls in November. Put in a vote for democracy!

 

#33: Fund Scholarships!
August 14, 2006

Education can be very expensive, yet it matters because it is often linked to better paying jobs and broader career choices. It can be an important way for people to get training in new fields and reestablish themselves after or during gender transition. One way to make lasting change for our community is to make it possible for people to afford an education.

You can help make it possible for someone to get the education that they need; donations can be small or large. Here are some examples of existing scholarships:

  • The TSELF scholarship (Transgender Scholarship and Education Legacy Fund for Transgender Identified Students in the Helping and Caring Professions Including Social Services, Health Care, Religious Instruction, Teaching and the Law) is designated just for transgender students. You can find information about them on their Web site. You can also establish your own named scholarship in honor of someone through their program.
  • The Point Foundation, offers scholarships for LGBT students. There are also opportunities to establish a named scholarship. The Point Foundation grants students money to complete their education, and also extensive support and mentoring.
  • The Houston Transgender Unity Committee is offering scholarships to trans students attending an accredited college or university (more information on their Web site).

You may also want to consider giving to schools you have attended. The Development Department or the LGBT Campus Center at your alma mater can give you information about how to set up a scholarship fund that will be administered by the school. This can help a college realize that they have transgender students and allies on campus, as well as support for them from transgender alumni and allies. There are many other scholarship funds out there as well; these are just some examples, so do some research to see where you'd like to invest your resources for our community. Whether you can give $5 or $50,000, a scholarship is a wonderful way to invest in the future of our community. If you are a student, check out these and other Web sites above and apply!

 

#34: Programs for Youth
August 21, 2006

As summer draws to a close, trans children and teens are preparing to head back to school. All kids deserve and need supportive, effective environments where they can learn and grow. There are some great resources available to help students, teachers, parents and community members make that happen.

If you are a student, teacher, parent or school administrator, consider supporting or starting a Gay Straight Alliance, or similar program, at your school. GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) has step-by-step resource guides to help you do that. There are sections for students and for educators with tons of practical information. If you already have a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or similar group at your school, GLSEN also has great activities to educate your group about transgender issues.

Even if you are not a student, educator or parent, there are vital things you can do as a community member:

  • Consider how the programs and activities of the trans community in your area could be more welcoming and inclusive of transgender youth. Find out about the needs and interests of trans youth in your community and include that perspective in your planning.
  • Pay attention to the policies of your local schools—you can attend school board meetings and educate about the need to end bullying and create safe spaces for students.
  • If a local school tries to block the formation of students groups, like a GSA, support organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union who stand up for students’ rights.
  • Mentor a young person.
  • Donate supplies or money to a youth group.
  • Volunteer to speak to an existing youth group.

NCTE's Program Manager, Justin Tanis, was the guest speaker at a Virginia GSA a few months ago. “It had been years since I’d been to a high school but it was a very positive experience. The students were attentive, with great questions, eager to learn about trans issues and talk about ways that they could be more supportive of trans students at their school. They understood many ways in which gender impacts their lives as queer youth and allies and they really want to create a freer world in which to live their lives.” Trans youth can access these great resources:

We want our youth to have a safe school year, full of opportunities for learning. Let’s help them get off to a great start.

 

#36 Get involved in the political process: Volunteer for a Candidate
September 5, 2006

Election season is fast approaching and it’s a great time to get involved. Candidates for public office need volunteers to help get out the word about their campaigns. By volunteering for a candidate of your choice, you can raise politicians’ awareness of transgender people before they even get in office. It reminds candidates and their staff that transgender people will be one of the many types of people they will be representing if elected. So, this week’s suggestion is, #36 Volunteer for a candidate Political campaigns have many different facets and there are a number of things that you can do to help out. Campaigns need people for all kinds of tasks including writing policy papers, stuffing envelopes, staffing tables at area events, going door to door to explain the candidate’s positions, encouraging people to get out to vote and more. Some volunteer positions are in public while others are behind the scenes. If you contact a campaign, they can give you an idea of what some of their current needs are.

You do want to find a candidate that you can believe in. When you contact a campaign office, ask about the candidate’s positions on issues that you care about and decide if this is someone you’d like to invest your time and effort in. Here are some places to start:

The political parties have links on their websites for people who are interested in volunteering either with the national political party or with local chapters. You can reach some of them here:

There are also GLBT groups that work within the political parties. You can find out which candidates they are supporting or volunteer with their organizations. You can find them here:

Get involved in politics by volunteering your time to help a candidate get elected.

 

#37 Plan and conduct a Day of Remembrance event
September 12, 2006

On November 20, communities around the world gather to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The Day of Remembrance is an opportunity to remember those who have died as a result of the high levels of hate-motivated violence directed towards our community and also a time to encourage people to take action to make the world safer.

The Day of Remembrance website has great resources to get you started. You can find them here: Day of Remembrance which includes the very helpful, "Tips for hosting a successful Day of Remembrance event." They will help you plan an event which is both solemn and empowering for participants.

If you need information about hate crimes against transgender people, check on our website here: Hate Crimes. The page includes information about hate crimes laws around the country and the status of federal legislation that would include "gender identity and expression" among the protected categories.

It is important to give people a way to channel their feelings of anger, fear, and sadness into positive action to make the community safer. Consider:

  • Encouraging people to write a letter to their elected representatives urging a vote for hate crimes legislation that includes transgender people (be prepared with sample letters, pens, paper, envelopes and stamps).
  • Holding a self-defense training led by a qualified instructor. The community liaison officers at your local police department can often point you towards resources.
  • Raising awareness and funds for local transgender or anti-violence groups providing advocacy for the transgender community.
  • Giving funds to support the Day of Remembrance and Remembering Our Dead websites.
  • Reaching out to all segments of the transgender community, so you'll have an event with diverse speakers and participants. Think carefully about who has not been present at other community actions and take steps to reach out to them.
  • Whatever else would be meaningful to your local community.

All people deserve the right to live free of violence and fear. Plan an event for the Day of Remembrance to honor those who have lost their lives and to work for a world that is safer for us all.

 

#38 Support or create a radio show or podcast
September 19, 2006

Want to hear a radio show relevant to your life? Looking for people like us out on the web? Or do you have something you'd like to say to the transgender community or to the world at large? Want to share your perspectives, ideas or entertainment? Then this week's suggestion is for you.

There are trans programs out there just waiting for you to listen! Check out these radio shows and websites (remember, you can often bring a headset and use the computers at a public library to listen if you don't have access to a computer elsewhere):

  • Trans FM is a great network of trans-related programs, including both talk shows and music by trans artists. You can find lots of content and options here (ranging from news to comedy to spirituality) to listen to: www.transfm.org. Ethan St. Pierre runs the site and has his own show, The Radicalguy.
  • Gender Talk is a long standing radio program on gender issues, hosted by Nancy Nangeroni and Gordene MacKenzie. You can find tons of resources, as well as new and archived programs here: www.gendertalk.com
  • You may find some trans content on the LGBT programs on satellite radio. Check these sites for more: Out Q on Sirius Radio: www.siriusoutq.com

If you'd like to make your own show, creating and distributing a podcast is easier than you might think. Podcasts are audio files-of music, commentary, whatever you want-that people can play on their MP3 players or computers. It's like having a portable radio show that listeners can hear whenever they want. Many people already have all the equipment they need to get started, but may not be aware of it.

First, you need to create content for your show. The more interesting you make it, the more people will want to listen. You can use the microphone and sound card that are probably already on your computer to do this or you can use a higher quality microphone. There are even programs that will allow you to record your content over the telephone.

Next, you'll need to save your audio file as an MP3 file. Check your computer to see if you already have a program that will manage audio files (you probably do and free ones are available on the internet). Then you'll need to publish the MP3 files on a website-your own site or a site that hosts podcasts. Finally, you will need to create an RSS feed; this delivers your content to each person who has subscribed to your podcast. Specific information about how to do each of these steps is available by clicking here.

Take advantage of this great technology to get your voice heard!

 

#39 Hold a House Party for NCTE or another trans organization
September 26, 2006

NCTE and other organizations need people to help spread the word about the work we are doing and the issues we face as a community. There are many transpeople who are new to our community and aren't yet aware of the political opportunities in front of us, and folks outside of our community who would like to support us, but don't know how. One great way to raise awareness and funds is to hold a house party for NCTE or another trans organization.

House parties are fun and easy ways to give people information about an issue, help them take action on it and raise some resources. All you need to do is gather together a group of people-friends, colleagues, family members, your neighbors, whomever you'd like-for a party.

During the party, you can:

  • Distribute information about transgender issues
  • Provide an opportunity for people to take action, such as writing letters to legislators or signing a petition
  • Give out membership brochures
  • Alert people to upcoming events in the community
  • Ask people to give money or other resources to support an organization.

NCTE has a brand new "T-Party" Kit to give you all of the information you need to host a party, including invitations you can personalize and use. Click here to download the kit.

People are often eager to give money to causes they support and welcome the chance to do so in a convenient and fun way. A party is a great opportunity because people can give any size gift in a fun and casual environment.

Holding a party is a wonderful way to build community in your local area and give out information about national, state and local transgender organizations. Why not plan one now?

 

#40 Make Jails Safer for Trans People
October 3, 2006

When people are imprisoned, they should be safe while they wait for a trial or serve a sentence. Trans people face particular challenges, both from other inmates and from the system, in staying safe from sexual harassment, assault and other dangers. One thing you can do for transgender equality is make jails safer for trans people.

"When Mike (not his real name) told me he'd been up for 48 hours straight because he and another FTM had been arrested, afraid for their safety, the only thing I could think to do was try to create a new policy to stop this sort of thing," said Lincoln Rose, a transgender advocate in King County, Washington, which includes Seattle. "So, about a year ago, a group of people joined with me and we began our research."

"I am proud to report," he continued, "that at the end of August, the King County Jail signed a new trans jail policy. Among other things, there will be no more strip searches to see what's between our legs, and the definition of staff we got was expanded to cover anybody with access to the jail, not just paid employees. That was important because it holds the jail accountable for the actions of volunteers and other folks."

To advocate for safer prison policies for trans people, here is the advice that Lincoln and his colleagues offer:

  • Get a copy of your local jail's current policies, so you'll know what you need to address and what type of language to use; Lincoln advises, "Be broad when you ask. We looked at not only their strip search policy, but their policies around determining housing, health care needs, inmate complaints, booking, good time and educational programs access, and sexual assault policy. Also ask for a copy of their inmate handbook."
  • Assemble as diverse a team as possible, including people of color, trans people with different gender identities, people who have been arrested, those who work in the political system etc. to work on crafting new policies
  • Research as much as you can about related policies and laws, including work being done by other communities
  • Solicit feedback from people outside of your team so that you get additional opinions and information
  • Hold a public forum to allow people to comment; this step increases people's support and helps you be accountable to the community
  • Have a plan to deal with potential resistance from the policy makers at the jail
  • Take care of your team, by providing food and a good working environment

This is a summary and you can read Lincoln's all of comments by clicking here. You can also find his contact information there if you have specific questions.

Also check to see if there are organizations in your area already working on prison policies. For example, Alex Lee and the Transgender In Prison project have been doing great work in California. You can find more information at www.prisons.org/TIP.htm.

Some other resources are:

Congratulations to the team from King County, Washington, for their work in making the jails safer for trans people. Why not consider doing something similar in your area?

 

#41 Hold a Job Fair
October 10, 2006

One of the critical issues facing the transgender community is the high level of unemployment and underemployment. Workers may lose their jobs or be unable to move forward in their career because of the prejudice we encounter and the majority of Americans live in areas that are not covered by anti-discrimination laws that include gender identity and expression. One way you can help is to organize a Job Fair for the transgender community.

A job fair is an opportunity to bring together employers with potential employees; companies can recruit for their available positions and people can submit applications directly for a number of jobs. Job Fairs may also include workshops to help people gain job-hunting skills so they can find meaningful employment or you can hold workshops ahead of time so people can prepare for the job fair. A number of trans communities across the country have held successful events like this.

It is helpful to work together with others to plan and conduct the job fair. Involve a wide range of local trans organizations and people in planning the event. In addition to helping distribute the work load, this will help you include the diverse needs of the trans community in your planning. Contact the transgender organizations in your area as you start the planning process and to publicize it.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Find a convenient location-some options might be in a community center, school, religious community or government building. Explain the purpose of your event and see if they will waive any rental charges. You will need to arrange for tables and chairs so that employers can set out their information. Find a location that is convenient for people using public transportation and is accessible.
  • Contact the employment commission or office in your city or state; they may be willing to assist you. These agencies regularly conduct job trainings and may have resources you can use.
  • Invite employers to participate. You find information on the Human Rights Campaign website about employers who have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity and expression here: click here. You can choose to invite companies that have offices near you or those who do nationwide recruiting. Contact others businesses and non-profits in your area that you think might be interested in participating. Some businesses may also be willing to sponsor the job fair.
  • Consider holding workshops on topics like career planning, résumé development, and how to interview for jobs. Find local people who have expertise in these areas. You might hold workshops before or during the job fair.
  • Get the word out in the community; be sure to publicize your event widely by sending announcements to trans groups in your area. It is useful to create a flyer that groups can distribute to their members as well as sending around e-mails. Remember that people who are unemployed or underemployed may not have access to some technology (computers, cell phones, etc.) and so you will need to be sure you reach people through multiple means.

Having a steady job and a stable income can make an enormous difference in the quality of life a person experiences. Hire a trans person at your job or hold a job fair to help trans people find employment. Doing so will be a step towards ending one of the greatest challenges we face as a community.

 

#42 Support a Drag Community Event
October 17, 2006

All around the country, drag queens and kings are holding events that raise money for charities and provide an opportunity for creative gender identity and expression. Members of organizations such as the Imperial Court, with chapters in several countries, raise tens of thousands of dollars to support local, national and international causes. While drag kings and queens don't necessarily identify as transgender, they are part of the gender spectrum. This week, we suggest that you support a drag community event

In addition to being entertaining, drag queens and kings reflect their own individual personalities and genders. We talked to PJ Sedillo, who- as Fontana Devine- was Empress VI of the Imperial Court of the Sandias in New Mexico. PJ says of Fontana, "Everything that I would love to get away with as a man, but can't, she can do." He says being Fontana has given him new insights into what it is like to be a woman and she has her own personality and way of being in the world. Fontana goes on to comment, "Everyone has the ability to accessorize-a few rhinestones, marabou, sequins can add pizzazz; however, the best accessories a person can wear are hope, compassion and a passion for life." Drag isn't just about the clothes someone wears, but their attitude toward life. Sedillo was recently featured on the local news highlighting his life as both a public school teacher and a drag queen.To watch the clip click here

We encourage you to build bridges and form new alliances among other people who have a non-traditional gender expression. You might want to hold a joint event with a drag organization and a transgender group. If you are planning an event like Trans Unity or Trans Pride in your area, invite members of the drag community to participate in planning it.

To find a drag event in your area:

  • Visit the International Court website; they have information about the organization and a calendar of events happening all over the world
  • Do a web search for a local drag ball
  • Check with your local gay or lesbian bars-some of them host drag nights or shows
  • Visit the drag stage at your LGBT Pride Festival

So head out and support a drag event. You'll have a fun night of entertainment, give a little money to a good cause and support our many-gendered community.

 

#43 Engage Media Coverage of Transgender Issues
October 17, 2006

Media coverage of the transgender community can have an incredible impact on how people see us and how they feel about the need for transgender equality. Many people learn about transgender people from watching television or reading stories in the newspaper. One way we can influence how society views and understands our stories is to engage the media's coverage of transgender issues.

"The transgender community has the opportunity to share its images and stories for the media to draw upon in undoing years of our silence and invisibility," comments Andy Marra, chair of NCTE's Board of Directors and the Asian-Pacific Islander Media Manager for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Helping people understand who we really are is critical to our movement.

Two resources that can help you with this are:

  • Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD): GLAAD's mission is working for fair and accurate coverage of people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. You can find their website at www.glaad.org and their media style book here.
  • National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA): NLGJA's website includes information for journalists-both for and about LGBT people. Their toolkit has resources specifically covering transgender media representation and inclusion. www.nlgja.org

Here are some ideas for action:

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or call the News Director at your TV affiliate or local radio station when you see or hear either a positive or negative story in the media. Remember that reporters and editors need to be told when they get a story right as well as feedback about unhelpful or defamatory stories.
  • Help local reporters access copies of the Associated Press (AP) or GLAAD stylebook (which is a published guideline for reporters about appropriate language to use) about how to respectfully report on transgender people and issues.
  • Attend a training on how to work with the media. These types of media trainings are often hosted at local LGBT community centers and conferences.
  • Participate in GLAAD's Monitor and Mobilize program to keep track of media in your local area; the program includes training and easy ways to report and respond quickly to stories in your area. You can get more information here Monitor and Mobilize
  • If you are asked to give an interview, NCTE can help you prepare with the most current information on trans issues and with tips on how to have a successful and positive interview. Give us a call.
  • Pay attention to people and groups who oppose transgender equality; write letters to the editor in response to their transphobic comments in the media.

Do your part to help ensure that there are accurate and positive portrayals of transgender people in the media. Take action today!

 

#44 Conduct a Community Needs Assessment
October 31, 2006

How do we know what the community needs in services, advocacy and support? Often, we look at the challenges the community faces and jump right in to address them. But this doesn't always mean that we are getting it right or even addressing the most important issues first. One very important tool to use in making lasting and meaningful change for the community is to find out; so this week's idea is to conduct a community needs assessment.

Christopher Daley from the Transgender Law Center comments, "One of the first things we did when we launched TLC was conduct a legal needs assessment survey of community members. The data that came out of that survey shaped TLC's work because input from large numbers of community members about their needs and goals for the movement helps to make sure that the work we're doing is needed and authentic." He goes on to say, "Putting the data into a report or a fact sheet, like TransRealities, was also incredibly useful in making arguments with decision makers. Fresh data strongly supports our advocacy efforts for anti-discrimination laws and social change programs."

A community needs assessment is a big project and one that is most fruitful when you take the time to do it carefully and thoroughly. It can include things like studying what information already exists about the community, talking to leaders for their input, using surveys, holding focus groups and conducting town meetings or community forums where people can address the issues. It is critical that you find ways to reach as many segments of the community as possible, including people of color, younger and older people, people of differing gender identities etc. You may want to write a grant proposal so that you can use a consultant to assist you in this process.

Some resources to get you started are:

  • Community Toolbox, which is a project of the Work Group on Health Promotion and Community Development at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas This site has tons of resources for community based organizations, including information on how to do a needs assessment.
  • Laboratory for Community and Economic Development at the University of Illinois, which has a series of fact sheets on community development and needs assessment
  • Iowa State Extension: information on the types of assessment tools, with advantages and disadvantages for each one

What are the most pressing needs in your community? Considering conducting a needs assessment survey in your area and getting more information about where your activism is needed most.

 

#45 Vote!
November 6, 2006

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 7, is Election Day in the United States. Across the country, a number of close races may be decided by just a handful of votes. At NCTE, we believe that being active in the political process is crucial to our movement for transgender equality and that every vote matters. Therefore, we have a very simple message for you this week: Vote!

Vote for whomever you choose, but do your part by going to the polls. NCTE has a Voter Resource with specific information to help transgender people overcome any obstacles they may encounter at the polls. You can view it here.

In most states, the deadline to register to vote has already passed. However, there are exceptions. There is no voter registration required in North Dakota; all residents are eligible to go to the polls. In the following states, you can still register on Election Day: Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Click on the state name to go to the state government web page with more information.

 

#46 Start a discussion group on gender related books
November 13, 2006

There are so many ways that people explore questions related to gender and countless perspectives on the topic. Some of them are intriguing to us, while others might be ideas we don't easily understand. One way to expand our knowledge of transgender issues, while building community, is to start a discussion group on gender related books.

"When I was young, confused and ignorant, the only books I could find that seemed relevant to my condition were The Autobiography of Christine Jorgensen and The Transsexual Phenomenon by Dr. Harry Benjamin," notes Merri Banks, Vice-President of TGEA, the Trans Gender Education Alliance of Greater Washington. "Later, the internet provided a river of information, but mostly the river was a mile wide and an inch deep, with many switchbacks and backwaters, and navigating alone led to a lot of wrong turns. When my support group, TGEA of DC, started a book club, I was surprised to find the variety of books now available on Transgender topics, from biography to psychology to politics to literature. The club provided a framework to learn, discuss, and have fun along the way. My only regret is that we didn't start this when I was much younger."

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Find a convenient time and place to hold a book discussion. This can be in someone's living room or in a public place. Many bookstores, especially independent ones, will be glad to let you hold a book discussion in the store. They may also provide a discount to group members who purchase their copies of the book from them and may have a special shelf for book club selections (this means that members of other book clubs will also see gender related books). Public libraries may have a room where you can meet and sometimes display books being read by local book clubs.
  • Pick a book that lends itself to lively discussion for your first meeting; after that, decide on a selection process for the group to choose future readings. Include a variety of genres, including novels, non-fiction, etc. Consider articles and films in addition to full length books. Sometimes it is easier to get people to read a chapter or an article than a book.
  • Research a little bit about the book to provide group members with some background. Things to look for include a biography of the author, reviews of the book, and other titles by the same author. You can find much of this information on the internet and the reference librarian at your public library can also help you search.
  • Ask group members to prepare for the meeting by reading the selection and picking a passage to discuss or bringing 3 questions for the group. This will help people be active participants.
  • Prepare 10-15 open ended questions (ones that require more than a yes or no answer) so that you can keep the conversation flowing. Allow for spontaneity as long as the group is staying on topic. Pay attention to make sure that everyone has a chance to talk.
  • Provide time for discussion (usually about an hour) and time to socialize. Book discussion groups are great ways to build community and make new friends.

There are some excellent books out there on gender issues. Expand your mind and your community today by starting a book discussion group.

 

#47 Respond to Alerts from Other Organizations
November 20, 2006

Last week, Amnesty International's Outfront program called upon their network of activists to urge officials in New York City to investigate allegations of police abuse of two transgender women. Amnesty International is an international human rights organization with a network of volunteers in 40 countries who call upon governments to address human rights concerns. In numerous cases, their work has led authorities to correct cases of injustice and have saved lives by drawing attention to abuse and violence.

It is important that we work together with other groups seeking a world free of prejudice and anti-transgender violence; therefore this week we encourage you to respond to alerts from other organizations.

A number of groups send out action alerts when a response is needed to a particular situation or have a portion of their website where you can get information and take action. Some of them are:

We encourage you to respond not only to cases involving transgender people, but any time people's lives and wellbeing are threatened. The more we can do to create a world free from violence and discrimination, the safer we will all be.

 

#48 Collect and share stories of discrimination
November 28, 2006

Personal stories can put a human face on critical issues that impact our lives. Hearing about a real person who has been the victim of violence or discrimination can help policy makers understand who we are and why these issues matter so much to us. Abstract data becomes a compelling personal matter when grounded in the lived experience of a member of the community. This week, we suggest you collect and share stories of discrimination.

"I have seen legislators, bureaucrats and even journalists suddenly just get it when they hear a real discrimination story about an actual person," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Though painful, our stories can be our most powerful tool for educating society."

Here are some ideas on how you can collect and share stories of discrimination:

  • Include information like: what happened, the impact the discrimination had on the person discriminated against, what it felt like, how finances or personal safety were affected by the discrimination, how officials (such as the police or company management) responded to the problem when it was brought to their attention, etc.
  • Keep a record of your story of discrimination at the time it happens, if possible. This can help you to accurately remember the facts.
  • Be sure to ask whether you can share the stories with others, either anonymously (by changing identifying information) or publicly.
  • When people have faced violence or discrimination, make appropriate referrals to advocates who can help (for example, consult NCTE's Responding to Hate Crimes: A Community Resource or contact an attorney). Let people know that you are collecting stories and not taking a report.
  • When educating officials, include stories. Use specific instances of discrimination to explain larger issues and place them alongside your data. For example, you might want to start a report on employment discrimination with the story of a person who was fired from their job because of their gender identity or expression. You can include sidebars with specific stories or weave them into the text of your document.

If you have stories of discrimination that you would like to share with NCTE, you can send them to us by using our online Incident Form on our website. Please use this form to report an incident of discrimination.

One way we can advocate to make laws and polices that protect our community is by showing the human face of the issues. You can help by collecting information about the ways in which real people have faced discrimination and by telling their stories.

 

#49 Set up a training in a hospital, nursing or medical school
December 4, 2006

Many transgender people do not get the medical care we need because of discrimination or because we want to avoid an awkward or negative encounter with health care providers. Yet having preventive health care and effective treatment when we are ill is critical for the well-being of our community. One way that we can address this problem is to help medical personnel-as well as future doctors, nurses and medical employees-understand us better. This week, we encourage you to set up a training in a hospital, nursing or medical school.

Many health care providers know very little about the needs of the transgender community. The curriculum at medical schools and other training programs often does not cover the specific health care needs of gender variant people. We can make a difference by educating medical and nursing students, or staff at a hospital or other medical facility, about the medical needs of transgender people.

It can be very useful to have a medical professional-someone who is transgender or an ally-participate in leading the training because they can speak as a peer to other medical providers. It is also important to have current and accurate information on the Standards of Care, guidelines for medical transition that are often used by health care providers. While your personal opinion on them may vary (and you are welcome to share your thoughts with the group), medical personnel often find professional guidelines helpful and will want to know what they say.

Some resources to help you prepare include:

You can make a critical difference in the quality of health care that transgender people receive by helping providers learn accurate, up-to-date information on our medical needs.

 

#50 Help an organization become more trans-inclusive
December 12, 2006

There are organizations who want to be more inclusive of transgender people-who may even include the "T" in their names or mission statements-but aren't sure how to be more effective in reaching and serving our community. We can play a role by helping organizations look at the big picture in order to understand and overcome the barriers to transgender participation and to identify active ways to include transgender people in every level of an organization. So, this week, we encourage you to help an organization become more trans-inclusive.

Some key things that organizations can pay attention to are:

  • Integrating transgender people into every level of the organization-from clients to the Board of Directors, from vendors to staff, transgender people should be well represented.
  • Recruiting and serving a diverse group of transgender people-recognizing that trans people come from every ethnic group, race, nation, ability, class, education level, etc. Finding one group of trans people does not mean that you've found the whole community.
  • Creating a welcoming environment-one that is free of physical barriers (such as providing gender-neutral restrooms) and from prejudice. Non-discrimination statements should include gender identity and expression. Past instances of discrimination need to be acknowledged with honesty and clarity.
  • Providing programming that is specifically of interest to transgender people, but not assuming that transgender people will be interested in attending only those programs. Trans people should be welcome at a broad range of programs, as well as having specifically focused events for trans people.
  • Ensuring transgender employees have adequate and appropriate healthcare coverage.
  • Understanding the experiences of transgender people, our families, friends and allies.

You can help by providing training for staff members, Boards of Directors or the general community. NCTE will be publishing a manual shortly that gives information on how to lead a Transgender Awareness training. You can also advocate with organizations to pay attention to transgender inclusion throughout their structure by looking at the bigger questions listed above.

So, this week we encourage you to work with an organization near you to help them become more inclusive of our community.

 

#51 Write an op-ed
December 19, 2006

Opinion Editorials-commonly known as "Op-eds"-are the section of a newspaper, journal or web site in which people express their points of view on topics related to current events or interests. An op-ed is an opportunity to develop an idea and present it persuasively to the public. By doing this, we can raise awareness and understanding about transgender people and the issues that concern us. So, this week's idea is to write and publish an op-ed.

Simon Aronoff, NCTE's Deputy Director, wrote an op-ed that was published by Gay City News about the importance of being able to legally change our names. You can find it here. It's a great example of how to express your thoughts through an op-ed.

If you'd like to write one, here are some things to consider:

  • Write about a topic that is important to you, one that you can address with both knowledge and passion.
  • Make it personal and also include supporting facts or information if possible. Use compelling, specific examples to illustrate your point.
  • Express a clear opinion on only one topic, beginning with an interesting paragraph that will grab the reader's attention and state the problem you'll address in the piece. End by restating your main point and your recommended solution.
  • Keep the op-ed to between 500 and 700 words on only one topic. You will need to be concise and to the point about what you have to say.
  • Use active language that will engage readers and terms that average people will be likely to understand. Avoid jargon and clichés.

To place your op-ed, keep these points in mind:

  • Contact the editor of the op-ed or editorial page about your idea. You can get a sense of their interest in your topic.
  • Op-eds should be sent to only one newspaper, journal or web site at a time. If your first choice does not accept it, then you can re-write or try another newspaper.
  • Check with individual media about their exact requirements; they do vary and sometimes they'll offer tips about how to write an op-ed piece. Check the website of the paper, journal or news site in which you'd like to place your op-ed to see what they recommend and require. Find out if they prefer that you fax, e-mail or mail your writing to them.
  • Include a 2-3 sentence bio of yourself, along with your contact information (include phone, e-mail and mailing address) in case anything needs to be clarified.

This week, express your opinion by writing and publishing an op-ed, coming soon to a paper, journal or website near you!

 

#52 Make a New Year's Resolution to Advance Transgender Equality
December 26, 2006

During the past year, we've explored more than 50 actions that people can take for transgender equality. All of the ideas are drawn from the work of real people in real communities. It was our goal to share effective ideas that will take both large and small steps to transform our world. As the year ends, this week's idea is to make a New Year's resolution to advance transgender equality.

It is our hope-and our goal-that 2007 will be a year of even more strides towards full equality for transgender people, and, indeed, for all people. We believe that the actions we've all taken in 2006 have laid the groundwork for that to happen. Now, as the New Year approaches, we challenge you to:

  • Pick one of the ideas you haven't done yet and put it into practice-by yourself or with a coalition of others.
  • Think of new ideas that would make our communities better and go and do them. Let us know what you learn along the way.
  • Call or e-mail someone and thank them for the work they've done this past year for transgender equality. Be a voice of encouragement.
  • Print out our free poster of 52 Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality and put it on your wall where other people can see it and get inspired to take action of their own.
  • Be a part of our monthly campaign in 2007 to raise awareness of the human rights of transgender people.

As we draw 52 Things to a close, we want to extend many thanks from NCTE to everyone who contributed their time, their ideas and their words to this campaign. We appreciate it!

Most importantly, thank you for all that you have done to support our communities, our campaign for transgender equality, and the work we are all doing to make our world more just and more safe for all people.

 

 

 

 

 

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