LGBTQ&A: Julie Chovanes

Julie Chovanes photographed by Amanda Swiger.

Julie Chovanes photographed by Amanda Swiger.

Julie Chovanes is the executive director of Trans-Help, a legal service provider for trans individuals. The lawyer and trans rights advocate talks to us about seeking justice for the late Nizah Morris, participating the PCHR Gayborhood racism hearing, and what the city can do to better serve the LGBTQ community. Read more »

Hahnemann to Offer Gender Affirmation Surgery

Photo from Hahnemann University Hospital's Facebook page

Photo from Hahnemann University Hospital’s Facebook page

Drexel University’s teaching hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital, has launched a new gender affirmation surgery program for transgender patients.

Hahnemann is the first academic medical center in the Philadelphia region to launch such a program, according to the institution. It will offer both female-to-male and male-to-female gender confirming surgeries. Patients will have access to face, breast, chest, body contouring, and other related surgeries.

The program will be directed by plastic surgeon Dr. Kathy L. Rumer, of the Ardmore-based private practice Rumer Cosmetics. Rumer’s practice already offers procedures for transgender patients, including facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation, and chest masculinization. Read more »

Black Trans Demonstration Planned for Creating Change Conference

The demonstration, led by black trans individuals, is calling out the conference for lacking their representation.

The demonstration, led by black trans individuals, is calling out the conference for lacking representation.

A collective of black transgender demonstrators is planning to stage a direct action at the Creating Change conference at 1 p.m. on Friday. The demonstration, initiated by activists Max T. Isaac and Lourdes Ashley Hunter, will center black trans individuals’ concerns around the nation’s largest LGBTQ conference. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Naiymah Sanchez

Naiymah Sanchez

Naiymah Sanchez

Naiymah Sanchez is a trans-Latina community activist and transgender advocate coordinator for the ACLU of Pennsylvania. We caught up with her on serving the community, being outspoken, and being one of the co-chairs of the nation’s largest LGBTQ conference, Creating Change. Read more »

Sharron Cooks on What the U.S. Transgender Survey Means for Philly

Sharron Cooks

Sharron Cooks

On December 8th, the National Center for Transgender Equality held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to release and review the findings in the latest U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS). More than 28,000 trans-identifying Americans participated in the largest-ever national study on transgender experiences, which covered issues including discrimination in employment, education, health, housing, and family life, and the criminal-justice system.

G Philly spoke with Philadelphia trans advocate Sharron Cooks, who had the opportunity during the press conference to share her personal experiences with discrimination as a black trans woman.

What would you describe as the key factors shaping the recent U.S. Transgender Survey?
Discrimination exists in many areas of my life and has throughout my lifetime. The U.S Transgender Survey is a data report that discusses the pervasive mistreatment and discrimination of transgender people in America. The U.S. Transgender Survey is the largest data report of its kind. Violence, sexual assault, unemployment, sex work, lack of medical treatment, homelessness, poverty, and racial bias are examples of some of the areas that were examined.

What stood out to you?
As a black transgender woman who is an advocate, community organizer, and consultant, the U.S. Transgender Survey acknowledges and affirms my experiences of discrimination as well as provides statistical data from nearly 30,000 transgender Americans who have shared similar experiences with discrimination. The finding in the report show that transgender women of color tend to experience higher levels of racial bias, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, harassment, violence, HIV/AIDS rates, inadequate healthcare, and run-ins with law enforcement than respondents who were not of color.

What was it like being one of the few trans people of color speaking at the press conference?
During the U.S Transgender Survey press conference, I shared very personal examples of discrimination that connected my experiences to the numbers in the report. In order to advocate, educate and policy-make, it is important to have both data and personal experiences to help people understand the high levels of inequality and lack of opportunities people in the trans community face, especially trans people of color. The U.S. Transgender Survey also includes findings of the discrimination non-binary people experience, which I think is great and ground-breaking for those who identify as non-binary. The U.S. Transgender Survey data report is a very useful tool that I will be utilizing in my business and community work, and I would strongly encourage all people, businesses, and organizations to read and use the U.S. Transgender Survey in a positive and transformative way for the betterment of all our community members.

What are some motivating factors in your life that keep you optimistic despite many of these statistics?
My life was enriched greatly with the support of my family, friends, and community. I have a B.A. in philosophy with a focus on ethics from Arcadia University. I created my own company, Making Our Lives Easier LLC, that is a consulting firm that provides quality resources and information to underrepresented communities, particularly trans women of color.

What is your advice to other transgender Americans facing the issues highlighted in the report?
I know what it’s like to feel rejected and unsupported as well as the feeling of being respected, accepted, and supported, so in my role as a visible member of the transgender community it is my responsibility to bring awareness and attention to the overwhelming rates of discrimination members of our community deal with daily. I firmly believe that transformative change begins with self, but it is our job as a community and the responsibility of people in leadership to relentlessly and persistently advocate for diversity, inclusion, economic empowerment, and equality in all areas of public life for all people. Using the USTS is a great starting point.

LGBTQ&A: Reggie Shuford

Reggie Shuford, Esq.

Reggie Shuford, Esq.

Reggie Shuford, Esq., is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. We chatted with the civil rights leader on working for social justice for LGBTQ individuals statewide and what we can do in the Gayborhood to combat racial discrimination. Read more »

It’s Trans Awareness Week: Here Are 5 Major Issues the Community Faces

transgender

November 14th through 20th marks National Trans Awareness Week in America. Since 1998, members of the trans community and their allies have gathered annually to raise consciousness and advocacy in light of the disproportionate systemic barriers they face nationwide and within the LGBTQ community. The week leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th), which reflects on the transphobic deaths countless members of the community have suffered.

And while there has been an increase in trans advocacy work and visibility across political, social, and media platforms, states like Pennsylvania still have more work to do toward ensuring the equal protection and security of trans individuals. Here are five major issues that are still affecting the trans community. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Sharron Cooks

Sharron Cooks

Sharron Cooks

Sharron Cooks is a trans woman activist of color and the founder and CEO of Making Our Lives Easier LLC. We chatted with her about her community-building and being the only trans woman of color delegate participating in the Democratic National Convention.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I have a B.A in philosophy from Arcadia University, with a focus on ethics. I’m the founder and CEO of Making Our Lives Easier LLC, which is a consulting firm that provides quality resources and information to underrepresented communities through activism, advocacy, community organizing, and political advising. I work in community relations at the Educational Justice Charter School, which is an initiative that aims to provide an accepting, safe educational environment for students and an interdisciplinary learning experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, math, and community service. It was my years of volunteerism at the William Way LGBT Community Center that helped me realize and understand the strong impact that giving back to the community has on both the giver and the receiver. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: Trans Murder Victim Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds Remembered

Dee Dee Dodds, courtesy of Facebook.

Dee Dee Dodds, via Facebook.

Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds’s murder brings this year’s toll of reported trans women’s deaths to 15.

On Saturday, friends and family paid their respects to the life of black trans woman Deeiquia “Dee Dee” Dodds who was murdered in Washington, D.C. Dodds, 22, was shot on July 4th near her home and died after spending nine days on life support. “This is Dee Dee neighborhood … everyone knew her,” Janiyah Littman, one of Dodd’s friends, told the press during the vigil. “Like, she always went somewhere, like she didn’t go too far.” It was also made known during the vigil that Dodd was a sex worker, a common occupation for working-class trans women who face employment discrimination. It is currently unknown whether her profession was connected to her murder; no suspects have been announced. Police are still investigating what exactly happened and whether she was the victim of a hate crime. The rate of murders of trans women has risen alarmingly this year. Even more disturbing is that there seems to be a particular trend of them being of color, with many of the reported 15 murdered so far have been identified as either black or Latina. Read more »

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