Updated: Mar 31, 2021
March 31 was the International Trans Day of Visibility. For the last few years, TGI Network has marked this annual holiday with an Empowerment Breakfast that celebrates work being done to improve the lives of Rhode Island’s transgender and gender-diverse community. Notably, we focus on empowerment rather than visibility, because we understand visibility to be a fraught concept. Many of our most vulnerable peers have no choice about being visibly gender diverse; many make an appropriate personal choice for privacy; and among those choosing visibility as a conscious step toward greater social awareness of trans identities, visibility remains a challenge metric for justice.
You can likely guess that this year’s Empowerment Breakfast, scheduled for March 28, was postponed due to the developing crisis surrounding COVID-19. It is clearer each day that the recipients of this year’s Empowerment Awards, Remi Graber and Denise Crooks (in cover photo), exemplify what we most need in this challenging time.
Remi Graber—a paramedic, nursing student, and founder of the Not 1 More Campaign—has consistently shown up to support their fellow community members. They work each day to provide vital health care services, life-saving information, thoughtful insight, and advocacy. Denise Crooks—a committed social worker, devoted Rhode Island Trans Health Conference organizer, and tireless advocate with LGBTQ Action RI and Rhode Islanders for Parentage Equality—is a driving force behind much of the recent legislative wins that have profoundly bettered the lives of transgender and gender-diverse Rhode Islanders. It is clear from her reputation in our community that Denise provides the kind of life-saving care in her practice that our community most needs in order to thrive.
When Remi and Denise were selected as award recipients, we at TGI Network were not yet aware of the looming pandemic, but we knew that the empowerment of our community has hinged on access to equitable, affirming care, and has been fostered by the passion and commitment of individuals. Now, more than ever, we need to see Remi and Denise as examples of commitment to community that we all can emulate. Our contributions will be unique, but our focus will be on the strength and health of our community as a whole.
TGI Network of Rhode Island provides support, advocacy, and education for the transgender, gender-diverse, and intersex community (aka trans community). Visit us at www.tginetwork.org.