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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 21, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 38
Trans rights are human rights
Section One
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Trans rights are human rights

D.C. launches anti-discrimination campaign with gender-variant focus

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On September 13, Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray and other city officials unveiled the country's first publicly funded campaign to combat anti-Transgender discrimination.

'We know an ad campaign is not a cure-all or a panacea, but it is a step in the right direction,' said Gray at Mova Lounge on 14th Street Northwest, where he and other officials, including Office of Human Rights Director Gustavo Velasquez, unveiled five separate ads, featuring five Trans or gender-variant people who live in the city.

The ads highlight D.C.'s anti-discrimination law that includes Trans-specific protections and encourage Trans people to contact the Office of Human Rights if they experience discrimination based on their gender identity or expression.

According to Michael Lavers of the Washington Blade, among the activists and officials present were City Councilmember Jim Graham; Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs; Earlene Budd of Transgender Health Empowerment; and Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

ANTI-TRANS VIOLENCE ON RISE
Lavers wrote, 'The Metropolitan Police Department reported five bias-related crimes based on gender identity and expression during the first six months of this year, compared to two reported anti-Trans incidents during the same period in 2011. The stabbing death of Deoni Jones at a Northeast Metro bus stop in February, and a Human Rights Report released in July that criticizes D.C. police for confiscating condoms from Trans prostitutes and other sex workers, underscore what activists maintain is persistent anti-Trans violence and discrimination in the nation's capital.'

'As we unveil this campaign and we celebrate, we must acknowledge that the origins of this campaign come in response to a difficult year in which many Transgender and gender-nonconforming people faced both discrimination and violence in both high-profile incidents and not-so-high-profile incidents,' said Elliot Imse of the Office of Human Rights. 'This is a campaign built with the memories of the individuals both harmed and lost - victims of violence rooted in intolerance and misplaced hatred.'

According to the Washington Blade report, Consuella Lopez, a hair stylist from Friendship Heights, is among those who appear in the campaign. She told the newspaper that a man broke her jaw at a local nightclub in the late 1990s in what she described as an anti-Trans hate crime. Lopez stressed that she feels the ads will further educate Washingtonians about the city's Trans residents.

'The message is that it brings awareness, and the awareness is that we are part of your community so treat us like you would any other human being or any other woman,' she said.

Wesley, a Capitol Hill resident whom the campaign also features, agreed.

'D.C.'s always had really great laws,' he said. 'They're acknowledging some of the problems that are still going on and I think this is a great way to do it.'

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