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36 - 40 : 52 Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality

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#36: Get involved in the political process: Volunteer for a Candidate

Election season is fast approaching and it’s a great time to get involved. Candidates for public office need volunteers to help get out the word about their campaigns. By volunteering for a candidate of your choice, you can raise politicians’ awareness of transgender people before they even get in office. It reminds candidates and their staff that transgender people will be one of the many types of people they will be representing if elected. So, this week’s suggestion is, #36 Volunteer for a candidate Political campaigns have many different facets and there are a number of things that you can do to help out. Campaigns need people for all kinds of tasks including writing policy papers, stuffing envelopes, staffing tables at area events, going door to door to explain the candidate’s positions, encouraging people to get out to vote and more. Some volunteer positions are in public while others are behind the scenes. If you contact a campaign, they can give you an idea of what some of their current needs are.

You do want to find a candidate that you can believe in. When you contact a campaign office, ask about the candidate’s positions on issues that you care about and decide if this is someone you’d like to invest your time and effort in. Here are some places to start:

The political parties have links on their websites for people who are interested in volunteering either with the national political party or with local chapters. You can reach some of them here:

There are also GLBT groups that work within the political parties. You can find out which candidates they are supporting or volunteer with their organizations. You can find them here:

Get involved in politics by volunteering your time to help a candidate get elected.

#37: Plan and conduct a Day of Remembrance event

On November 20, communities around the world gather to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The Day of Remembrance is an opportunity to remember those who have died as a result of the high levels of hate-motivated violence directed towards our community and also a time to encourage people to take action to make the world safer.

The Day of Remembrance website has great resources to get you started. You can find them here: Day of Remembrance which includes the very helpful, "Tips for hosting a successful Day of Remembrance event." They will help you plan an event which is both solemn and empowering for participants.

If you need information about hate crimes against transgender people, check on our website here: Hate Crimes. The page includes information about hate crimes laws around the country and the status of federal legislation that would include "gender identity and expression" among the protected categories.

It is important to give people a way to channel their feelings of anger, fear, and sadness into positive action to make the community safer. Consider:

  • Encouraging people to write a letter to their elected representatives urging a vote for hate crimes legislation that includes transgender people (be prepared with sample letters, pens, paper, envelopes and stamps).

  • Holding a self-defense training led by a qualified instructor. The community liaison officers at your local police department can often point you towards resources.

  • Raising awareness and funds for local transgender or anti-violence groups providing advocacy for the transgender community.

  • Giving funds to support the Day of Remembrance and Remembering Our Dead websites.

  • Reaching out to all segments of the transgender community, so you'll have an event with diverse speakers and participants. Think carefully about who has not been present at other community actions and take steps to reach out to them.

  • Whatever else would be meaningful to your local community.

All people deserve the right to live free of violence and fear. Plan an event for the Day of Remembrance to honor those who have lost their lives and to work for a world that is safer for us all.

#38: Support or create a radio show or podcast

Want to hear a radio show relevant to your life? Looking for people like us out on the web? Or do you have something you'd like to say to the transgender community or to the world at large? Want to share your perspectives, ideas or entertainment? Then this week's suggestion is for you.

There are trans programs out there just waiting for you to listen! Check out these radio shows and websites (remember, you can often bring a headset and use the computers at a public library to listen if you don't have access to a computer elsewhere):

  • Gender Talk is a long standing radio program on gender issues, hosted by Nancy Nangeroni and Gordene MacKenzie. You can find tons of resources, as well as new and archived programs here: www.gendertalk.com

  • You may find some trans content on the LGBT programs on satellite radio. Check these sites for more: Out Q on Sirius Radio: www.siriusoutq.com

If you'd like to make your own show, creating and distributing a podcast is easier than you might think. Podcasts are audio files-of music, commentary, whatever you want-that people can play on their MP3 players or computers. It's like having a portable radio show that listeners can hear whenever they want. Many people already have all the equipment they need to get started, but may not be aware of it.

First, you need to create content for your show. The more interesting you make it, the more people will want to listen. You can use the microphone and sound card that are probably already on your computer to do this or you can use a higher quality microphone. There are even programs that will allow you to record your content over the telephone.

Next, you'll need to save your audio file as an MP3 file. Check your computer to see if you already have a program that will manage audio files (you probably do and free ones are available on the internet). Then you'll need to publish the MP3 files on a website-your own site or a site that hosts podcasts. Finally, you will need to create an RSS feed; this delivers your content to each person who has subscribed to your podcast. Specific information about how to do each of these steps is available by clicking here.

Take advantage of this great technology to get your voice heard!

#39: Hold a House Party for NCTE or another trans organization

NCTE and other organizations need people to help spread the word about the work we are doing and the issues we face as a community. There are many transpeople who are new to our community and aren't yet aware of the political opportunities in front of us, and folks outside of our community who would like to support us, but don't know how. One great way to raise awareness and funds is to hold a house party for NCTE or another trans organization.

House parties are fun and easy ways to give people information about an issue, help them take action on it and raise some resources. All you need to do is gather together a group of people-friends, colleagues, family members, your neighbors, whomever you'd like-for a party.

During the party, you can:

  • Distribute information about transgender issues

  • Provide an opportunity for people to take action, such as writing letters to legislators or signing a petition

  • Give out membership brochures

  • Alert people to upcoming events in the community

  • Ask people to give money or other resources to support an organization.

People are often eager to give money to causes they support and welcome the chance to do so in a convenient and fun way. A party is a great opportunity because people can give any size gift in a fun and casual environment.

Holding a party is a wonderful way to build community in your local area and give out information about national, state and local transgender organizations. Why not plan one now?

#40. Make Jails Safer for Trans People

When people are imprisoned, they should be safe while they wait for a trial or serve a sentence. Trans people face particular challenges, both from other inmates and from the system, in staying safe from sexual harassment, assault and other dangers. One thing you can do for transgender equality is make jails safer for trans people.

"When Mike (not his real name) told me he'd been up for 48 hours straight because he and another FTM had been arrested, afraid for their safety, the only thing I could think to do was try to create a new policy to stop this sort of thing," said Lincoln Rose, a transgender advocate in King County, Washington, which includes Seattle. "So, about a year ago, a group of people joined with me and we began our research."

"I am proud to report," he continued, "that at the end of August, the King County Jail signed a new trans jail policy. Among other things, there will be no more strip searches to see what's between our legs, and the definition of staff we got was expanded to cover anybody with access to the jail, not just paid employees. That was important because it holds the jail accountable for the actions of volunteers and other folks."

To advocate for safer prison policies for trans people, here is the advice that Lincoln and his colleagues offer:

  • Get a copy of your local jail's current policies, so you'll know what you need to address and what type of language to use; Lincoln advises, "Be broad when you ask. We looked at not only their strip search policy, but their policies around determining housing, health care needs, inmate complaints, booking, good time and educational programs access, and sexual assault policy. Also ask for a copy of their inmate handbook."

  • Assemble as diverse a team as possible, including people of color, trans people with different gender identities, people who have been arrested, those who work in the political system etc. to work on crafting new policies

  • Research as much as you can about related policies and laws, including work being done by other communities

  • Solicit feedback from people outside of your team so that you get additional opinions and information

  • Hold a public forum to allow people to comment; this step increases people's support and helps you be accountable to the community

  • Have a plan to deal with potential resistance from the policy makers at the jail

  • Take care of your team, by providing food and a good working environment

This is a summary and you can read Lincoln's all of comments by clicking here. You can also find his contact information there if you have specific questions.

Also check to see if there are organizations in your area already working on prison policies.

Some other resources are:

Congratulations to the team from King County, Washington, for their work in making the jails safer for trans people. Why not consider doing something similar in your area?


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