by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
A new statewide campaign launched on September 15 aims to increase public understanding of the Transgender community.
TRANSform Washington, funded by a grant from the Pride Foundation, 'celebrates the dignity, diversity, and humanity of transgender and gender-nonconforming people,' the group says in its initial press release.
The campaign's website, TRANSformWashington.com, features the statement 'Transgender people are _____' and then fills in the blank with photos and stories from Trans people who are parents, grandparents, musicians, health care practitioners, children, students, and so on.
'Just 23% of people in Washington say they personally know someone who is transgender. So it's not surprising the general public doesn't understand what it means to be a transgender or gender-nonconforming person,' said Project Coordinator Jeremiah Allen, who is a Transgender man and parent to three children.
The campaign is designed to help solve that problem by introducing cisgender people to their Trans neighbors and coworkers.
'We want people to go to the website,' Allen told SGN, 'and they will see the stories of trans people.'
For example, the campaign website features Cheryl, a retired Transgender woman in her seventies who lives in Gig Harbor with her husband Tom.
'I want to demonstrate to the world that we are successful people who live lives of good work and positive success,' she says.
In addition, Allen said, the campaign will do outreach to Washington businesses and community groups with an educational project.
Nicole Browning, board president of the Pride Foundation, said, 'As a lesbian and an ally, I have learned so much from my transgender colleagues, friends, and family. I am excited to be a part of this effort so I can better support my community and understand the diverse lived experiences of transgender and gender-nonconforming people at this critical time in our state.'
The campaign emphasizes that Transgender people come from every walk of life, every ethnicity, and every corner of the state.
Unfortunately, one of the things all Trans people have in common is that they face greater discrimination and violence because of their gender identities. Just two months ago, a coalition of Republicans and Christian extremist groups tried and failed to gather enough signatures to get an initiative on the ballot repealing Washington's 10-year-old non-discrimination protections for Transgender people.
'We want to increase public understanding that all of us, including our transgender friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, and children, deserve the freedom to live our lives with privacy, safety, and dignity,' said TRANSform Washington Advisory Committee member Rochelle Long of Renton, who is the mother of four children, including one Transgender child.
'What's great about our state is that Washingtonians believe everyone should treat each other with understanding and respect, and expect the same in return,' added TRANSform Washington Advisory Committee member Lucas Leek, a Transgender man who lives and works in Spokane. 'We believe all Washingtonians deserve to be safe, to be their true selves, and to live free from discrimination.'
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