by Ethan Huckel
This May, TGI Network of Rhode Island was again proud to be the community partner for the RI Trans Health Conference on May 18. This year, we were excited to collaborate with Youth Pride Inc. and PrYSM (Providence Youth Student Movement) to add youth-oriented programming to the conference. The community track of the conference expanded to welcome almost two hundred transgender and gender diverse people and their family and friends. We have come quite a long way from the one-room event that began five years ago.
We’re especially thankful to those who come together each year to plan this conference so that we can expand access to trans-affirming healthcare. The planning committee is made up of a remarkable group of positive, dedicated, resilient, hard-working, and caring people who rally behind this event when, at times, it would be easier to walk away. In particular, we want to thank Alexis Drutchas, who first conceived of this educational event for local healthcare providers and who has, ever since, dedicated herself to building a conference driven by community voices. If you would like to help plan next year’s conference, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As this year marks the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, we want to encourage our transgender community members to be inspired by the resilience and resistance of our predecessors. Just as the Stonewall participants united because of their position on the fringes of the queer community and banded together in collective resistance to the violence of police targeting and brutality, we must recognize that, despite our progress, these forces have not been deterred. We must stand in solidarity with those most affected by police violence and overreach. We support Providence Student Union’s (PSU) “Counselors Not Cops” campaign and encourage our community members to volunteer with PSU, PrYSM, AMOR, and other organizations working against state-sponsored violence and oppression.
This Pride season, we are hosting an LGBTQ Interfaith Service on June 12 at 7pm at Bell Street Chapel in Providence. The theme of the service is “Speaking in the First Person,” and, as a reflection of the ways that queer stories have often been filtered through a straight, cisgender lens, this service is focused on us telling our stories ourselves. Please join us. As always, we will be tabling and marching at Pride and we welcome you to swing by our booth and march with us. We will post our marching location on Facebook, but you can also find us by looking for the transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary, and intersex flags we will be flying.
Finally, we are very excited to announce that during the Pride festival this year, we will be presenting our Gwendolyn Spencer Legacy Award to honor a longstanding member of the Rhode Island transgender community who has tirelessly advocated and improved trans experiences for more than a decade. Jayeson Watts has led the majority of trans-related policy wins for over fifteen years, often with little support. Such wins include transgender health insurance inclusion, accessible correct drivers licenses and birth certificates for trans people, and more. Please join us on the main stage as we present Jaye with his award.
TGI Network of Rhode Island is the only statewide organization providing support, advocacy and education for the transgender, gender-variant, and intersex community (aka trans* community). Incorporated in 2011, our mission is to be a resource for TGI people navigating their lives and the medical and legal systems; to serve as a resource for professionals working with TGI people; and to serve as a liaison between the TGI and LGB communities and the community at large. Visit us at www.tginetwork.org.