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Trans people celebrate visibility at SF event

by Sari Staver

Fresh White received the Transformative Leader Award at<br>San Francisco's Transgender Day of Visibility event. Photo: Sari Staver
Fresh White received the Transformative Leader Award at
San Francisco's Transgender Day of Visibility event. Photo: Sari Staver  

With a line over a block long to enter, this year's Trans Day of Visibility celebration drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 500 people at SOMArts Friday, March 31.

An international day celebrated around the world, TDOV in San Francisco was organized by the community and more than a dozen local organizations, including the Trans Employment Program at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.

Emceed by Nya, a San Francisco trans woman who starred in the reality show "Transcendent," and Shawn Demmons, a research coordinator at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the evening featured the premier of a short video based on this year's theme, "Love and Resistance," produced by Clair Farley, a trans woman who's director of economic development at the LGBT center, and Sam Cooper, a center volunteer and a photo and video researcher at Instagram.

In an email to the Bay Area Reporter, Farley said the poem and photos in the video tell the story that love of one's self as a trans person and love for a trans person as an ally are forms of resistance.

"This is more important now than ever as trans people's rights are being battled all over the country," she wrote. "The photos were all crowd-sourced online; we received hundreds of photos of families and couples sharing love."

Farley said that the LGBT center is "planning to use the film to continue a campaign where cis people and allies can be open about their love for trans people."

"We believe that when we stop shaming the love and support of trans people, trans women of color will stop being murdered in our cities. We hope people will be inspired to join the movement," Farley wrote.

Awards were also distributed. Honorees were selected from hundreds of nominees, and included videographer Gwen Park; Aria Sa'id, program director at St. James Infirmary, a peer-based occupational health and safety clinic for sex workers and their families; Fresh White, a member of the employment services team at the LGBT center and an independent life and career coach; Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project, a group that works with trans people inside and outside of prisons, jails, and detention centers; and the Tom Waddell Transgender Clinic, part of the city's health department.

Farley pointed out that TDOV is the only day celebrating trans people who are still living. The Transgender Day of Remembrance in November honors those who have been lost to violence, she noted.

This year's event was difficult, because "our community does not feel like celebrating," said Farley.

"Just in the first few months of 2017, we have lost at least eight trans women of color who have been brutally murdered," Farley said. "Trans rights and human rights are being striped away across the country, due to our current administration and the backlash against visibility and progress of equal rights.

"We opted to continue the event despite these recent events because as an LGBT movement we have always perceived through our inherent resiliency and by coming together as a community to gain strength for the work ahead," Farley added. "Plus our movement is about love, we wanted to remind people that love always wins."



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