Pridelines Center is less than three miles from Martin Luther King Boulevard. But while hosting a panel on transgender issues with civil rights activist Cecilia Chung, it became the intersection of Black Lives Matter and Trans Lives Matter.
The panel was organized by Morgan and Ashley Mayfaire of TransSocial South Florida, and Arianna Lint of Arianna’s Center. The original schedule included Chung, a civil rights activist and Senior Strategist of Transgender Law Center, Tony Lima and Bren Pantilione of SAVE Miami, and Bishop SF Makalani-Mahee, Transgender Program Coordinator for Broward’s Department of Health. Wilton Manors City Commissioner Julie Carson, recipient of the 2014 Trans Equality Award, and Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) also attended.
Chung, the first transgender woman to chair the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and now a member of the Health Commission, addressed the impact HIV has had on trans people. Chung says the laws surrounding HIV transmission risks and exposure are an unofficial criminalization of gay and trans lives and disproportionately affect transgender women, who are more likely to engage in sex work due to workplace discrimination.
From the audience Tatiana Williams, Testing Expansion Coordinator for the Pride Center, said she is frustrated because she feels it’s rare that black trans women are included in support organizing, and when they are it is to exploit their image rather than create positive change. Williams said trans women of color not only face animosity for being trans but for being minorities too, some of which could be eased by including women of color among groups advocating for trans rights.
Related: SFGN's Transgender Special Issue
“You have to put some of those people, those women and men that look like them, in the room,” Williams said.
Makalani-Mahee agreed that it is at times challenging to address the needs of a specific community. The work gets “very sanitized” said Makalani-Mahee. “We want women, particularly trans women of color, to thrive,” Makalani-Mahee said.
Related: Out50 2014: Bishop SF Makalani-Mahee
After the discussion, Ashley Mayfaire said she was happy to open a dialogue and help a community with few peer outlets to talk about their experiences and needs.
“We are planning another community meeting with the help of Arianna's Center and Cecilia Chung, to do the work of bringing our Trans community closer together.” said Mayfaire. “We know that the divisions within the "T" can be worked through, and we look forward to helping in that process.”
TransSocial’s next event is Wed. April 12, a Trans Men's Night of Empowerment at Dynamic Recovery Center in Oakland Park, W. Suite, 2424 W Oakland Park Blvd. from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Call 954-368-5819 for details.