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Online Extra: Breed marks Trans Awareness Month

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Mayor London Breed condemned the latest move by the Trump administration that would strip non-discrimination protections, including protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in all Health and Human Services grants during a Friday event kicking off Transgender Awareness Month. Photo: Cynthia Laird
Mayor London Breed condemned the latest move by the Trump administration that would strip non-discrimination protections, including protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in all Health and Human Services grants during a Friday event kicking off Transgender Awareness Month. Photo: Cynthia Laird  

Mayor London Breed raised the trans flag at San Francisco City Hall Friday, marking the beginning of Transgender Awareness Month.

City Hall was to be lit in the pink, light blue, and white colors of the trans flag Friday evening.

This is the second time the city has declared November as trans awareness month. Last year, in a surprise to attendees at what was then called Transgender Awareness Week, Breed and the Office of Transgender Initiatives said the month would be commemorated as a time for trans and gender-nonconforming people and their allies to come together to celebrate successes and take action on issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence.

Friday started with the news that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is stripping non-discrimination protections, including protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in all HHS grants, which are made up of taxpayer dollars.

The new proposal, the Transgender Law Center said in a news release, will also give HHS the green light to fund recipients who do not treat same-sex marriages as valid.

Breed wasted no time in condemning the administration's latest move.

"The president even today rolled out plans against the trans community that can take away millions of dollars from the community," she said.

"Despite transphobic and bigoted efforts around the country to dismantle the rights of trans people, our trans community will never be erased," Breed said in a news release before the event. "In San Francisco, we celebrate our diversity. We are committed to continuing our investment in the trans community by providing support through the enactment of policies and programs."

Each November, the community comes together to recognize the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20.

The Office of Transgender Initiatives is a historic trans-led city government office launched to develop innovative policies and programs that support the transgender, gender-nonconforming, and LGBTQ communities. The office was created by the late mayor Ed Lee and is the first and only municipal office of its kind.

"Here in San Francisco we celebrate Transgender Awareness Month to highlight the way that the community and the city are working together to advance equity for trans and gender-nonconforming communities," said Clair Farley, a trans woman who is director of the office. "This is also a time to ground ourselves in our observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day where we pay respect to the lives of predominately black transgender women we have lost to anti-trans violence.

"As transgender people are under attack across the country San Francisco will not rest until everyone in our community is thriving and has a safe place to call home," she added.

To that end, this year Breed funded the Our Trans Home SF program to provide rental subsidies. Last month, the city awarded $1.15 million for each of the next two fiscal years to two nonprofits to provide direct rental subsidies to help keep transgender and gender-nonconforming people in their homes or find housing.

"Our Trans Home SF will be a game-changer," the mayor said at the event.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, St. James Infirmary and Larkin Street Youth Services were awarded the contracts. The recipients can be of any age; Larkin received the contract for its rental subsidy experience, Farley said at the time.

At the event, Toni Newman, executive director of St. James, said people can begin applying for the subsidies December 1. She has recently hired several people who will be trained on the project this month.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman praised the city's budget allocation.

"The trans civil rights movement started in San Francisco at the Compton's Cafeteria riot," he said in the release, referring to the August 1966 uprising that saw transgender patrons of the Tenderloin restaurant stand up against the police, who were called to Compton's to quell a disturbance.

Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) named some of the trans people lost to violence this year: Itali Marlowe, who was shot multiple times in Houston last month; Elisha Chanel Stanley, who was found dead in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in September; Bailey Reeves, who was shot multiple times in Baltimore in September; and Jordan Cofer, a trans man who was shot in the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio in August.

Marlowe's death marks the 21st of a trans person this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"As our federal government turns its back on, and attacks, the transgender community, we must recommit to stand with our transgender neighbors," Wiener added.

Under Breed's leadership, the city has also increased its investment in LGBTQ arts and culture programs, including the Transgender Film Festival (November 7-10) and the Compton's Transgender Cultural District.

The Bob Ross Foundation, named in honor of the B.A.R.'s founding publisher, sponsored the Friday reception.

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