Trans Day of Visibility
To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility on March 31, organizers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation, New Haven Pride Center, Citywide Youth Coalition, Trans At Yale and other groups hosted an action on the steps of New Haven City Hall to allow members of the trans community to speak about the issues that affect them on a daily basis. Around 50 people came out to participate in the action.
IV Staklo, a Party for Socialism and Liberation member and trans community organizer who emceed the event, opened up with comments on what it means to be visible and live authentically.
Reed Miller, an organizer with Black & Pink Org., spoke about the tough time that trans inmates face while incarcerated, and how many trans inmates are forced into prison housing based on their sex assigned at birth, regardless of their actual gender.
Party for Socialism and Liberation member Chardonnay Merlot spoke as well: “Yes, it’s a difficult, dangerous and dark time. But we are the light. We will not only weather the storm, we are the storm…Hate will not win here.
IV Staklo, the emcee, made a brief statement in support of Palestine in light of the IDF’s violence on Land Day, and highlighted the tactics of those co-opting the LGBTQ struggle to further the goal of more global militarism: “Today I want to extend my solidarity to the people of Palestine who are being gunned down in protests on Land Day. We cannot let the U.S. and Israeli governments use pinkwashing to make us support their genocide against our family in the Palestinian people.”
When the event was finished, everyone was invited over to the New Haven Green for one final show of solidarity by forming the trans symbol out of a human chain. After that, the Pride Center hosted a resource and clothing exchange and pizza party for people to connect further.
Transgender Day of Remembrance
New Haven transgender rights activist IV Staklo didn’t know how much a country could support the identity, rights and healthcare of its transgender citizens until they saw a movie about Cuba’s first transgender woman to receive sex reassignment surgery.
For Staklo, En el cuerpo equivocado (The Wrong Body) is not just about the exceptional life of Mavi Susel, who in 1988 became the first transgender person in Cuba to receive surgery to help her realize her female gender identity.
The 2010 documentary is also about the impact that a national educational initiative, like Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), can have in helping shift a country’s attitude toward LGBTQ people over time from one of homophobia and transphobia to one of tolerance, legal protection and institutional support.
“If we look at revolutions historically, they don’t happen overnight,” Staklo said on a recent episode of WNHH’s “Deep Focus” radio show. “Major change in a system doesn’t happen overnight. And that’s something we can learn on a macro and on a micro level.”
Next week, Staklo will have an opportunity to share En el cuerpo equivocado, along with a handful of other trans-positive films, with New Haven audiences as part of an annual local celebration of the diverse stories, challenges, joys and concerns of being transgender.
Organized by the New Haven Pride Center, a local LGBTQ advocacy nonprofit based out of 84 Orange St., New Haven’s Transgender Awareness Week starts next Monday, Nov. 13, and will feature a variety of trans-specific performances, lectures, conversations and marches all geared toward raising awareness of the issues facing New Haven’s trans community.
Trans poet and spoken word artist Alok Vaid-Menon will perform at Westville’s Lyric Hall on Monday, Nov. 13. Representatives from the transgender support hotline service Trans Lifeline will hold an info session at the Pride Center on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the Pride Center and the United Church on the Green will host screenings of five different documentaries and fiction films that feature transgender characters, actors and stories.
The week’s festivities culminate on Monday, Nov. 20 2017, with a demonstration on the New Haven Green in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a nearly two-decade old national day of reflection on the transgender people who have died during the previous year as a result of gender-related violence.
Although New Haveners have been celebrating Transgender Day of Remembrance for at least half a decade, Staklo and Pride Center executive director Patrick Dunn said that they want this year’s Transgender Awareness Week to be about more than the violence, loss, sorrow and danger experienced by many in the trans community.
They want the week to express the courage and vitality of a community that is slowly growing in attention, power and respect locally and nationally. This week alone, seven out transgender candidates were elected to local and state office throughout the country, including Danica Roem in Virginia and Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham in Minneapolis.
“In New Haven, there has been an effort by the local trans community to expand [Transgender Day of Remembrance] beyond just a somber event that reflects on the lives that we lost,” Staklo said. “We want to expand it to celebrating the lives that continue existing and continue fighting for each other.”