In July 2015, the Anti-Violence Project, Make the Road New York, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Audre Lorde Project, the LGBT Center, and GMHC (along with local Bronx-based LGBT organizations and allies) with support from then City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council member Ritchie Torres, and the LGBT caucus of the City Council held our first borough-specific forum to address the needs of the trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) communities in New York. Hosted at Hostos College in the Bronx, this first forum was attended by over 100 community members who gathered to share and strategize around issues that impact our community on a daily basis. The break out groups were organized by key issues including Policing, Immigration, Healthcare, Housing, Employment, and Education.
The goals of the forums were to create relationships between the trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) community and the New York City Council, to highlight the ongoing local issues our communities face, and to have our community directly engaged in providing the solutions we need that the city must implement. One of the outcomes of the Forums was the creation of a “white paper” document, a policy document that includes recommendations to the City Council, addressing the areas the City must support and be held accountable for.
For the last several years, our organizations have continued this work as a coalition, organizing forums in each of the other boroughs of the city to address the issues and needs of the TGNC community in New York:
- August 2015, we held our first Forum in the Bronx in partnership with Hostos Community College
- February 8, 2016, we held our second Forum in Queens at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights
- February 3, 2017, we held the Brooklyn Trans Forum in partnership with the YWCA; Global Action Project began filming the forums
- April 27, 2016, we held the Manhattan Trans Forum in partnership with GMHC
- August 29, 2017, we held the Staten Island Trans Forum in partnership with Staten Island Community College
- Over the fall of 2017, our organizations worked with our members and in coalition to go from pages of problems and solutions to finding the themes and identifying urgent concerns that might have a budget item related. Andrea Bowen was contracted to support the continued development of our policy work.
- In November 2017, in honor of Trans Day of Remembrance, our coalition organized a rally and press conference to release a policy brief, “Solutions Out of Struggle and Survival: A Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Policy Brief for NYC” and Global Action Project released this short video about the process.
- In the last few months, our Coalition has continued organizing efforts to meet with city agencies to advocate for the recommendations.
So Where Are We Now?
Involving hundreds of participants, these forums were able to create necessary space to identify problems and generate solutions from our communities. Our Coalition has been working consistently with members and city agencies to hold meetings to discuss and review our proposals for healthcare, housing, immigration, employment, and policing-related matters.
It’s important to note that one agency or organization alone did not create these solutions, these come from a coalition of our organizations and from the many forums that our community supported and attended. These recommendations do not represent all the ideas, struggles, or solutions that were generated throughout the process, they are asks directly to city agencies who our communities are impacted by everyday. From increased need and priority for rental assistance, a more comprehensive TGNC employment program, healthcare liaisons in hospitals, free immigration lawyers and support for TGNC immigrants, and training and evaluation of NYPD Standard Operating Procedures, our community has spent years on this process and now it’s time to meet with officials, share our stories, and stregthen advocacy skills so we can make the change we need!
We are holding this upcoming Advocacy Summit on Saturday April 7th for all TGNC community members who were, or weren’t, a part of the forums. The goal is to build our skills around understanding and speaking to public officials, specifically around the asks we are making to the Mayor and City Council.
In March, we engaged in several budget hearings where City officials, city agencies and the general public heard from our struggles and demands. We are continuing to strengthen our work and that is why in April at the Advocacy Summit you will get to learn more and practice speaking with officials and supporting the policy issues outlined in the proposal. Come out on April 7th to get more involved and learn how to go from struggles to solutions!
If you would like to attend this upcoming Advocacy summit for TGNC community members, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a member of the press or interested in speaking with us more about our work, please contact Andrea Bowen at email@example.com.