Throwback Thursday: Early Transgender Activist and Co-Founder of William Way Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Every week I take a trip down memory lane in William Way Community Center’s John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, a veritable treasure trove of relics from gay Philadelphia’s past. This week, archivist—and author of The Gayborhood Guru—Bob Skiba shares photos of Tommi Avicolli Mecca taken in the 1970s and 1980s. Skiba tells me that “Tommi was an early activist here, one of the founders of the Gay Community Center (which later became William Way) and the Archives, and a trans activist.”



Woman Crush Wednesday: The Mazzoni Center’s Samantha Jo-Dato

Every hump day a Philly person shares their local picks for Woman Crush Wednesday. Today, local mover and shaker Samantha Jo Dato, who works at the Mazzoni Center to organize the annual Philadelphia Trans-Health ConferenceShe will soon publish a testimonial journal called Sami Jo Shattered Perfect, which she “hopes will reach trans* people near and far and inspire them to transform their narratives of struggle into stories of major success.”



Our Last Five Woman Crush Wednesdays:

Philly Artist Paints Only Authorized Portrait of Chelsea Manning

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You’ve likely seen the above image of Chelsea Manning that’s accompanied nearly every story of her since it was announced that she was transitioning. Manning was never happy with the image and the way it portrayed her, so she and supporters set out to find an alternative, something to send to the media that reflects her in a better, more realistic light.

The answer? A portrait by a relatively unknown Philadelphia artist and UArts grad named Alicia Neal. But it wasn’t going to be an easy job. A detailed article on theverge.com explains:

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Suddenly Fem Donates $5K Worth of Male-to-Female Trans Fashions to Mazzoni Center

Catalog-cover-2014Suddenly Fem, a fashion and lifestyle catalog that sells clothes and accessories to the cross-dresser and male-to-female transgender community, is all up in Philly this weekend. Not only will it be participating in tomorrow’s fourth annual Philly Trans* March, but the retailer has donated $5,000 worth of clothing to the Mazzoni Center—everything from dresses and heels to jackets and lingerie that are made to fit the male-to-female figure. 

The donation will go to the Center’s Sisterly Love Trans* Wellness Project, which, among other things, seeks to help trans women succeed in the workforce. The trans community has a high rate of unemployed people and many struggle to find the right professional outfit,” says the Mazzoni Center’s Samantha Jo-Dato. “We will make the clothing accessible to women in the trans community who are looking for jobs. We welcome them to stop by and pick out a couple amazing things for their wardrobes.”

That’s one of the goals of Suddenly Fem, too.

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Guide to OutFest 2014: Gay DJs at Dilworth Park, a Stimulus and Pulse Mashup Party, Stonewall Kickball’s Pub Crawl, and More

The party is always hoping on Camac Street, between U Bar and Venture Inn. | Photo by Josh Middleton

The party is always hoping on Camac Street, between U Bar and Venture Inn. | Photo by Josh Middleton

The 24th annual OutFest is on Sunday, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t celebrate National Coming Out Day all weekend. To keep you on your gay-game we’ve rounded up the best events so you’ll know how to whoop it up from Thursday night till the sun goes down Sunday.

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Transgender Law Center Kicks Off Campaign to Discourage Homophobic, Racist Halloween Costumes

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The Transgender Law Center hopes you’ll be classy, like these ladies, this Halloween.

Halloween: It’s the spookiest night of the year, but sometimes the fun and games can can turn downright ugly. With that in mind, the Transgender Law Center is hoping that individuals will think twice before they don what may be perceived as offensive costumes on October 31.

The Center, which advocates for policy and law changes to support all gender identities and expressions, has started a campaign aptly titled “Discrimination is Scary,” that discourages folks from wearing Halloween costumes that could be perceived as sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, or ableist this October. Read more »

Allentown Trans Woman Sues Former Employer Over Discriminatory Behavior

Kate Lynn Blatt

Kate Lynn Blatt

A transgender woman in Allentown has filed a federal lawsuit against her former employer, Tilden Township sporting goods store Cabela’s, saying that the company discriminated against her when she was transitioning, even going so far as to fire her because of her gender identity.

Kate Lynn Blatt’s lawsuit claims that management wouldn’t let her wear a gender-appropriate uniform, they forced her to wear a name tag with her birth name on it, and refused to let her use the women’s restroom.

“I mean it personally tore me down,” she says. “It never let up, they never stopped, and it prevented me from expressing who I was. … [My right to use the women's restroom was] refused and thrown in my face, even after I had provided all the documentation and proved my case.”

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17-Year-Old Bucks Co. Trans Man Ends His Life by Stepping in Front of an Amtrak Train

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Photo from Facebook.

GALAEI’s TransHealth Information Project (TIP) just released information about the passing of 17-year-old transgender man Riley Matthew Moscatel*. The young man, a student at Bucks County Technical High School, was killed when an Amtrak train hit him Monday afternoon. Coroners are ruling it a suicide.

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Superintendent Stands Up for New Jersey Trans Teen Who Was Told She Had to Enroll in School as a Boy

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Yesterday I told you about Rachel Pepe, the 13-year-old transitioning transgender student who was told she would not be able to enroll at Thorne Middle School as female. In a shameful turn of events, the school told her that she would have to dress as and answer to her birth name, Brian.

Thankfully the school district’s superintendent, William O. George, is stepping in to make the transition easier for Pepe. Yesterday evening he announced that he would work with staff to ensure she could attend school as Rachel, and do what he could to create a safe environment for her. This includes having the staff undergo LGBT sensitivity training.

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