Local advocates celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

DELMARVA – Every year between November 13th and 19th, the transgender community is highlighted during Transgender Awareness Week.

The goal is to increase the visibility of the transgender community and encourage people to show their support.

“In addition to celebrating the LGBT community, and particularly the trans community, it’s also to recognize the challenges that we face and the ultimate sacrifices that some of our siblings have given,” said Founder of the Mid Shore Transliance Tina Jones.

Just this year, 45 transgender people lost their lives due to violence, and that doesn’t include those who took their own lives, according to Jones.

“We’ve made a lot of great strides. But, again, we see the violence against transgender people, particularly young transgender folk, increasing. That’s one of the reasons that, unfortunately, at this year’s vigil we’re going to have to say the names of more individuals who lost their lives than we ever have,” said Jones.

Jones says the best way to show support is to be a good ally. She says that means lending a listening ear, providing a shoulder to lean on, and giving a helping hand where needed.

“Support looks like people just accepting us for who we are. We’re just fellow human beings. To be there when someone’s having a tough time, and if you put your arm around them and say it’s going to be okay,” said Jones.

Another important issue to focus on this week is supporting transgender youth in particular, says Jones. While she says a lot of progress has been made and many are finding the courage to be their authentic selves at a younger age, they still face disproportionate levels of violence, harassment, bullying, and exclusion.

“It’s exciting. It’s wonderful to see these young folks having the courage to be their authentic selves. But, at the same time it’s troubling because I’m watching what’s happening nationally with the push back against the transgender community, particularly with the youth being targeted,” said Jones.

That’s why Jones says it’s so important to point transgender youth in the right direction when they are lost.

“If they’re struggling, help them find those connections. If you’re LGBTQ yourself, particularly this week focusing on transgender, reach out to find other folks in your community,” she said.

Some of those resources include Jones’ Mid Shore Transliancelocal PFLAG chapters, CAMP Rehoboth, GLAAD, and GLSEN.

“We’re here to help, and that’s what we want to do. It’s a very loving and very inviting community, made up of very kind people who have had these struggles themselves. They’re more than willing to help each other in their times of need.”

On Saturday, Jones and the Mid Shore Transliance will be participating in CAMP Rehoboth’s Transgender Day of Remembrance. A vigil will be held to honor transgender people who lost their lives to violence, local transgender leaders will be honored, and there will be speakers.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Maryland, Virginia