PICTURE: The Winning Team!
On October 15th, following the historic and successful organizing campaign to make the Human Resources Administrationpass a policy to stop discrimination against trans and gender non conforming people seeking HRA services, members from the Welfare Justice Campaign traveled to the HRA training headquarters in Queens, NY to train workers on the policy.
Jennifer Roman of Trans Justice said: “It is about time that HRA sat down with us. By watching our training video and seeing the true definitions of transgender they now know what we actually go through when we come into HRA seeking services” In the past, similar city policies have failed in the training phase using inadequate curriculum and trainers lacking cultural competence.
HRA workers acknowledge that this was the first time they were trained on or had even read the policy since it was implemented in December 2009, making the training a historic moment for both the workers and campaign members. Kris Hayashi, Co-Director of the Audre Lorde Project states: “The Welfare Justice Campaign continues to need everyone’s support to ensure that all HRA employees are trained on the new procedure and that our communities are central to the development and implementation of these trainings.”
“The curriculum is important because it was developed by trans and gender non conforming people who face discrimination at the hands of HRA,” Mya Vazquez Coordinator of Trans Justice of the Audre Lorde Project said. “It was very important that HRA was trained by us to see those affected by their ignorance of trans and gender non conforming issues. We created a space where it was good for them to ask questions rather than make assumptions about gender. They got a 1:1 understanding of the importance of trans visibility and how to treat our community.”
The training clip that the Welfare Justice Campaign made came from their training material and individual experiences trans and gender non conforming people were having at HRA. The short video can be watched here
Transgender and Gender Non Conforming people navigate extreme, abusive, unjust discrimination when trying to access government benefits in New York City. Some transgender people are denied the ability to even apply for benefits and told to come back when they “dress more like a girl, or boy.” Since 2005, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) communities in New York City have been fighting back by urging HRA to address the widespread Transphobia, discrimination, and harassment that Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people in New York City face when accessing public assistance. In 2005 HRA and a Citizen Advisory Transgender Sub Committee developed Best Practice Protocols for Serving Trans and Gender Non Conforming Clients (the new procedure is based on this document). Unfortunately, these protocols sat on the shelf for years and were never implemented nor adopted by HRA.
“It is clear that without the hard work of trans and gender non conforming people organizing in New York City these trainings would not happen and HRA would continue to be a hostile place for trans and gnc people. This is an unmistakable example of the power our communities hold and can leverage, ” Pooja Gehi of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project wrote.