West Hollywood News
Transgender Awareness Spotlights Civil Rights
By Amanda Macke
Nov 6, 2013 - 5:45:36 AM

WEST HOLLYWOOD—The light blue and pink flag waving over City Hall marks the beginning of Transgender Awareness Month with a series of scheduled events highlighting the City’s role as a national leader in transgender civil rights.


The Creative City kicked off Transgender Awareness Month on Sunday, November 3 with community members attending the Transgender Memorial located at Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Height Boulevard. City Spokeswoman Bonnie Smith, who was one of approximately twenty that attended the event, told Canyon News that the originally scheduled march from Plummer Park turned into a caravan to the memorial. “It was really nice even though attendance was small,” Smith said.


According to Smith, community members and council members, including Councilman Duran and Councilman Prang, gathered to pay homage and pray side by side as a deacon performed a blessing and placed a wreath upon the Transgender Memorial.

The Transgender Flag.

The memorial, located at the Matthew Shephard Memorial Triangle, comprises of a pyramid plaque with an inscribed poem written by Transgender Advisory Board Member Drian Juarez. “To my knowledge, it is the only transgender memorial in the United States,” said Smith.


The Transgender Memorial, dedicated by the City in 2009, is a symbol of the progressive actions West Hollywood is taking to bring attention to the issues surrounding the transgender community. The City's Transgender Advisory Board, which Smith has been a member for seven of its nine years, is also the first of its kind in the nation.


West Hollywood has always been on the cutting edge on civil rights, and we hope to be inclusive of the transgender community” Smith stated. “Transgender people just want to be treated as normal,” Smith continued, “I think that is how every civil movement begins”¦with people just wanting to be treated normal.”


With the transgender flag flying over City Hall for the month of November, the City announced the following events for Transgender Awareness Month:


November 6—The City’s Transgender Advisory Board’s Monthly Meeting beginning at 7 p.m. in the West Hollywood City Council Chambers located at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. Validated parking available.


November 7—Transgender Economic Empowerment Job and Resource Fair at the National Council of Jewish Women located at 543 N. Fairfax Ave. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.


The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Project (TEEP) provides employment services and support for the transgender community through legal assistance, education for employers and networking referrals to transgender-friendly employers.


Canyon News spoke with TEEP program manager Drian Juarez who said members of the transgender community, “often find barriers to employment or have employers who lack understanding of issues that arise in the workplace, which leads to lost opportunities.” Juarez continued, “What we hope to accomplish with the fair is to make employers more familiar and inclusive of transgender employees by providing education and resources.”


A training session and brunch will be held at 9 a.m. for employers to learn about the various identities that fall under the transgender umbrella and how to properly navigate situations that may arise in the workplace. The Transgender Economic Empowerment Job and Resource Fair will then open at 10 a.m. for community members to connect and network with employers looking to hire.


Some participating organizations will include Sunbeam Market, Andrews International and El Pollo Loco. According to Juarez, the representative from El Pollo Loco is a transgender who owns 16 El Pollo Locos, and she will be a keynote speaker on diversity at the event.


November 9—Transgender Film Screening at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers located at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Validated parking available. According to the City’s website, the screening will feature the best short films from the L.A. Trans Film Festival, including: “Transdroids,” “Remember Me in Red,” “Putting the I in Trans,” “Make a Mate,” “La Santa,” “The Thing,” “Lee” and “Genderfreak.”

November 16—Transgender Wellness & Wellbeing Conference (TWWC) at the National Council of Jewish Women located at 543 N. Fairfax Ave. from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free and lunch will be provided.


Sponsored by the NuMan Transgender Support Network (NTSN), the first ever TWWC is designed to promote the health and prosperity of the transgender community. Juarez said it would be “a holistic event” with activities aimed at nurturing one's spiritual wellbeing, such as yoga. Attendees are encouraged to register at http://transwellnessandwellbeing.com.


November 20—Transgender Day of Remembrance beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the West Hollywood Library Autocourt located at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. The outdoor vigil will include speeches from community members, city representatives and transgender performers and will conclude with a reading of the names of transgender people killed from hate crimes. The event, which attracts approximately 150 people each year, memorializes the lives lost from intolerance and hate while bringing attention to society's continued discrimination against transgender people. Admission is free.

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