Philadelphia groups to mark Trans Awareness Week

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Local LGBTQ advocates have been preparing for Transgender Awareness Week, which is today through Nov. 19.

Advocates around the country will work to shine a light on transgender communities and the issues they face.

GALAEI’s Trans Equity Project will host a series of events starting Thursday, Nov. 15, with a dinner and a trans-youth panel discussion.

“It’s really important to really center and understand the intersectionalities that the transgender community faces,” said Francisco Cortes, youth manager and interim executive director of GALAEI, a Philadelphia organization that promotes queer Latino social justice, according to its website.

“That includes being a young person, being a person of color, being a trans person, and then you also have socio-economic barriers there. It’s going to be a conversation to really understand what it is like to be a young trans person in Philadelphia and then how is it we can support the community.”

According to the national Human Rights Campaign, the 29 reported deaths due to violence toward transgender people in 2017 was the highest yearly total ever recorded. In 2018, there have been 22 deaths so far.

In September, a trans woman named Shantee Tucker, 30, was shot and killed in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Hunting Park. She was the 19th trans person to die from violence in 2018, according to HRC.

At the federal level, President Trump recently announced that his administration is considering legally redefining gender to be determined by sex at birth rather than one’s chosen identity. Such a move would render about 1.4 million people invisible under federal laws such as Title IX.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration confirmed that it would abstain from investigating complaints from transgender students who are denied access to bathrooms that match their gender, a move that members of the transgender community and their supporters say violates their civil rights and leaves them vulnerable to bullying.

Cortes said that transgender people’s struggle for equality has been constant, but that this year feels especially difficult.

“We understand in this political climate, in this social climate, there’s a big push we see in a negative way to really erase trans identity in various ways,” said Cortes.

The Mazzoni Center, an LGBTQ health center, will also host events for the week at its office at 1348 Bainbridge St. It’s open to all ages.

“With the alarming number of trans murders, I think this week is very imperative to bring awareness to issues that we face daily,” said Tatyana K. Woodard, community health engagement coordinator of the Mazzoni Center. “Also to celebrate the resilience of the trans community.”