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47 - 52 : 52 Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality

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#47: Respond to Alerts from Other Organizations

In the past, Amnesty International's Outfront program called upon their network of activists to urge officials in New York City to investigate allegations of police abuse of two transgender women. Amnesty International is an international human rights organization with a network of volunteers in 40 countries who call upon governments to address human rights concerns. In numerous cases, their work has led authorities to correct cases of injustice and have saved lives by drawing attention to abuse and violence.

It is important that we work together with other groups seeking a world free of prejudice and anti-transgender violence; therefore this week we encourage you to respond to alerts from other organizations.

A number of groups send out action alerts when a response is needed to a particular situation or have a portion of their website where you can get information and take action. Some of them are:

We encourage you to respond not only to cases involving transgender people, but any time people's lives and wellbeing are threatened. The more we can do to create a world free from violence and discrimination, the safer we will all be.

#48: Collect and share stories of discrimination

Personal stories can put a human face on critical issues that impact our lives. Hearing about a real person who has been the victim of violence or discrimination can help policy makers understand who we are and why these issues matter so much to us. Abstract data becomes a compelling personal matter when grounded in the lived experience of a member of the community. This week, we suggest you collect and share stories of discrimination.

"I have seen legislators, bureaucrats and even journalists suddenly just get it when they hear a real discrimination story about an actual person," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Though painful, our stories can be our most powerful tool for educating society."

Here are some ideas on how you can collect and share stories of discrimination:

  • Include information like: what happened, the impact the discrimination had on the person discriminated against, what it felt like, how finances or personal safety were affected by the discrimination, how officials (such as the police or company management) responded to the problem when it was brought to their attention, etc.

  • Keep a record of your story of discrimination at the time it happens, if possible. This can help you to accurately remember the facts.

  • Be sure to ask whether you can share the stories with others, either anonymously (by changing identifying information) or publicly.

  • When people have faced violence or discrimination, make appropriate referrals to advocates who can help (for example, consult NCTE's Responding to Hate Crimes: A Community Resource or contact an attorney). Let people know that you are collecting stories and not taking a report.

  • When educating officials, include stories. Use specific instances of discrimination to explain larger issues and place them alongside your data. For example, you might want to start a report on employment discrimination with the story of a person who was fired from their job because of their gender identity or expression. You can include sidebars with specific stories or weave them into the text of your document.

One way we can advocate to make laws and polices that protect our community is by showing the human face of the issues. You can help by collecting information about the ways in which real people have faced discrimination and by telling their stories.

#49: Set up a training in a hospital, nursing or medical school

Many transgender people do not get the medical care we need because of discrimination or because we want to avoid an awkward or negative encounter with health care providers. Yet having preventive health care and effective treatment when we are ill is critical for the well-being of our community. One way that we can address this problem is to help medical personnel-as well as future doctors, nurses and medical employees-understand us better. This week, we encourage you to set up a training in a hospital, nursing or medical school.

Many health care providers know very little about the needs of the transgender community. The curriculum at medical schools and other training programs often does not cover the specific health care needs of gender variant people. We can make a difference by educating medical and nursing students, or staff at a hospital or other medical facility, about the medical needs of transgender people.

It can be very useful to have a medical professional-someone who is transgender or an ally-participate in leading the training because they can speak as a peer to other medical providers. It is also important to have current and accurate information on the Standards of Care, guidelines for medical transition that are often used by health care providers. While your personal opinion on them may vary (and you are welcome to share your thoughts with the group), medical personnel often find professional guidelines helpful and will want to know what they say.

Some resources to help you prepare include:

You can make a critical difference in the quality of health care that transgender people receive by helping providers learn accurate, up-to-date information on our medical needs.

#50: Help an organization become more trans-inclusive

There are organizations who want to be more inclusive of transgender people-who may even include the "T" in their names or mission statements-but aren't sure how to be more effective in reaching and serving our community. We can play a role by helping organizations look at the big picture in order to understand and overcome the barriers to transgender participation and to identify active ways to include transgender people in every level of an organization. So, this week, we encourage you to help an organization become more trans-inclusive.

Some key things that organizations can pay attention to are:

  • Integrating transgender people into every level of the organization-from clients to the Board of Directors, from vendors to staff, transgender people should be well represented.

  • Recruiting and serving a diverse group of transgender people-recognizing that trans people come from every ethnic group, race, nation, ability, class, education level, etc. Finding one group of trans people does not mean that you've found the whole community.

  • Creating a welcoming environment-one that is free of physical barriers (such as providing gender-neutral restrooms) and from prejudice. Non-discrimination statements should include gender identity and expression. Past instances of discrimination need to be acknowledged with honesty and clarity.

  • Providing programming that is specifically of interest to transgender people, but not assuming that transgender people will be interested in attending only those programs. Trans people should be welcome at a broad range of programs, as well as having specifically focused events for trans people.

  • Ensuring transgender employees have adequate and appropriate healthcare coverage.

  • Understanding the experiences of transgender people, our families, friends and allies.

You can help by providing training for staff members, Boards of Directors or the general community. NCTE will be publishing a manual shortly that gives information on how to lead a Transgender Awareness training. You can also advocate with organizations to pay attention to transgender inclusion throughout their structure by looking at the bigger questions listed above.

So, this week we encourage you to work with an organization near you to help them become more inclusive of our community.

#51: Write an op-ed

Opinion Editorials-commonly known as "Op-eds"-are the section of a newspaper, journal or web site in which people express their points of view on topics related to current events or interests. An op-ed is an opportunity to develop an idea and present it persuasively to the public. By doing this, we can raise awareness and understanding about transgender people and the issues that concern us. So, this week's idea is to write and publish an op-ed.

Simon Aronoff, NCTE's Deputy Director, wrote an op-ed that was published by Gay City News about the importance of being able to legally change our names. You can find it here. It's a great example of how to express your thoughts through an op-ed.

If you'd like to write one, here are some things to consider:

  • Write about a topic that is important to you, one that you can address with both knowledge and passion.

  • Make it personal and also include supporting facts or information if possible. Use compelling, specific examples to illustrate your point.

  • Express a clear opinion on only one topic, beginning with an interesting paragraph that will grab the reader's attention and state the problem you'll address in the piece. End by restating your main point and your recommended solution.

  • Keep the op-ed to between 500 and 700 words on only one topic. You will need to be concise and to the point about what you have to say.

  • Use active language that will engage readers and terms that average people will be likely to understand. Avoid jargon and clichés.

To place your op-ed, keep these points in mind:

  • Contact the editor of the op-ed or editorial page about your idea. You can get a sense of their interest in your topic.

  • Op-eds should be sent to only one newspaper, journal or web site at a time. If your first choice does not accept it, then you can re-write or try another newspaper.

  • Check with individual media about their exact requirements; they do vary and sometimes they'll offer tips about how to write an op-ed piece. Check the website of the paper, journal or news site in which you'd like to place your op-ed to see what they recommend and require. Find out if they prefer that you fax, e-mail or mail your writing to them.

  • Include a 2-3 sentence bio of yourself, along with your contact information (include phone, e-mail and mailing address) in case anything needs to be clarified.

This week, express your opinion by writing and publishing an op-ed, coming soon to a paper, journal or website near you!

#52: Make a New Year's Resolution to Advance Transgender Equality

During the past year, we've explored more than 50 actions that people can take for transgender equality. All of the ideas are drawn from the work of real people in real communities. It was our goal to share effective ideas that will take both large and small steps to transform our world. As the year ends, this week's idea is to make a New Year's resolution to advance transgender equality.


Now, as the New Year approaches, we challenge you to:

  • Pick one of the ideas you haven't done yet and put it into practice-by yourself or with a coalition of others.

  • Think of new ideas that would make our communities better and go and do them. Let us know what you learn along the way.

  • Call or e-mail someone and thank them for the work they've done this past year for transgender equality. Be a voice of encouragement.

  • Print out our free poster of 52 Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality and put it on your wall where other people can see it and get inspired to take action of their own.


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