FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Coalition of Local Transgender Advocacy Groups Being Formed
Columbus, Ohio – 07/05/2010 – TransOhio is announcing the first meeting of the newly formed advisory board for a new coalition of transgender advocacy organizations, initially being called the National Coalition of State-Level Transgender Organizations. TransOhio’s Founder & Chair, Shane Morgan, is a founding member of this newly formed national collaboration. The coalition will bring together state and city-based transgender-led advocacy organizations for the purpose of networking, organizing, sharing resources, and building grassroots advocacy.
The meeting, which is being funded by the Gill Foundation, will take place in Memphis, TN on the weekend of July 9 – 11th. This national meeting will consist of representatives from the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, the Transgender Civil Rights Project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Transgender Law Center, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, the Transgender Education Network of Texas, the DC Trans Coalition, and TransOhio.
On Saturday evening, July 10th, the advisory board will also be hosting a reception in Memphis at 6pm at the Westin Memphis Beale Street for local transgender community members and allies who are interested in learning about the transgender movement around the country.
During this meeting the advisory board will define the mission, craft a vision statement, and outline plans for the first year. One of the overall goals of the coalition is to facilitate more open communication amongst state- and city-based transgender advocacy groups in order to provide additional opportunities for sharing of strategies, policies, and best practices. The hope is that independent organizations can benefit collectively from each other’s work in advancing the transgender movement in the United States.
The advisory board chose Memphis as their meeting location in order to bring continued media attention to the unacceptable and dangerous climate that transgender Tennesseans are facing. Since 2000, there have been ten recorded murders of transgender individuals in Tennessee. Four of those occurred in Memphis.
In February of 2008, Duanna Johnson, an African-American transgender woman, was beaten by Memphis police officers while cuffed to a bench in the police station. This beating was captured on videotape. In November of 2008, Duanna Johnson was found shot to death; her killer has yet to be found. Additionally, the case against the officer that was charged with her beating was declared a mistrial by a federal judge in Memphis in April of 2010.
In another case, Tiffany Berry’s murderer was allowed to walk free for two years without even a trial, and during that time he also killed his two-year-old daughter. These are just two examples of the many injustices occurring to transgender people in Tennessee, but they demonstrate the urgency of building a stronger movement to protect the lives of transgender people around the United States.
This national coalition will work towards transgender equality in the United States and collaborate with transgender activists around the world. Right now, transgender people lack clear legal protections in many jurisdictions and there has never been a more crucial time to pass legislation concerning transgender civil rights and safety. The majority of those affected by transphobic violence are women of color. While the majority of those currently in leadership roles in this coalition are not women of color, as we move forward we are committed to including and empowering the voices of trans communities who are women of color, low-income, sex workers, live in the South, First Nations, people with disabilities, rural or experience other kinds of marginalization. We are committed to remaining accountable to the communities who are most directly impacted by violence.
Gunner Scott, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, stated, “This coalition is an exciting development for transgender rights movement. It will be extremely useful for every group, large or small, working toward transgender equality to be able to communicate with and benefit from each other’s work.”
Dr. Marisa Richmond, President of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, said, “Having this historic meeting here in Memphis will help to shine a light on the brutal and often unsolved murders of transgender women that have been occurring here in our state.”
Lisa Scheps, Executive Director of Transgender Education Network of Texas said, “Texas is a state that is particularly hostile toward gender diverse people, we have a lot of work to do and this coalition will help us do our work by providing resources, support, and best practices. We envision a Texas where gender diverse citizens are treated with respect and this coalition will help us get there.”
Shane Morgan, Founder and Chair of TransOhio, said, “These atrocities that transgender people are facing are taking place all over the country and abroad. It’s time to stop the hate and the violence. Our board and our work will bring our organizations together on many levels: Community building, education, and advocacy. There’s strength in numbers and in collaboration, and it’s time we show both.”
Lisa Mottet, Director of the Transgender Civil Rights Project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said, “I am honored to be invited to participate and support a stronger transgender rights movement at the state and local level. There is so much to be done, but I believe the tide in our country has turned toward transgender rights. This new coalition will be crucial in ensuring that transgender rights advance as quickly as possible all over the U.S.”
Sadie-Ryanne Baker, a leading member of the DC Trans Coalition’s organizing collective, stated, “DCTC believes that local and community-driven changes are crucial to the movement for trans justice and gender self-determination. We are thrilled to be a part of the first-ever collective effort to support one another’s local struggles and ensure that the voices of all our diverse trans communities are heard on the national scale.”
Masen Davis, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center said, “Transgender people in the U.S. experience staggering rates of poverty, unemployment and violence. It’s critical we come together to share the resources and strategies needed to improve the well-being of this community.”
For more information on the formation of this new national coalition, the community reception on Saturday evening, or this historic meeting in Memphis, please contact Gunner Scott at 617-778-0519.
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
PO Box 301897, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130