Wilton Manors will “acknowledge the T,” as Vice Mayor Justin Flippen has become fond of saying, by flying the transgender flag.
On Tuesday, commissioners voted unanimously to fly the transgender flag on International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31), Transgender Flag Day (Aug. 19), Transgender Day of Remembrance (Nov. 20), and the week of the city’s Stonewall Festival in June. It will be flown at Jaycee Park on the same pole used for the city’s Pride Flag. The flag will be raised for the first time Thursday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Jaycee Park, NE 21st Court.
Transgender ally Michael Rajner brought the issue to the commission in February with a transgender flag that had been donated Antonio Dumas, owner of To The Moon. Rajner said the transgender community was still struggling with basic issues they were 10 years ago, such as bathroom use. That issue of bathroom use caused him to bring the issue to the city after the Trump administration reversed an Obama administration guideline that asked public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Trump officials decided it should be left up to the states.
In his renewed call for the city to raise the flag, Rajner cited Boston Mayor Marty Walsh who raised the flag in May of 2016 in his city and vowed to keep it up until Massachusetts legislators passed equal protections for transgender individuals.
Transgender author Dr. Kelley Winters told commissioners that raising the flag was about raising visibility for the transgender community. “It’s time for the Island City to live up to its promise,” she said. Jen Laws said “it would be deeply meaningful” for him and other transgender individuals to see the flag raised because members of his community don’t always feel included or accepted by some, including the federal government.
Although he supports flying the flag on the dates chosen and he respects the transgender community, Commissioner Scott Newton said he doesn’t want to see the flag flown permanently. Previously, he said he considers the transgender community represented by the Pride Flag. “They are in the LBGTQ ... it seems like we keep separating out [all these different groups].”
Commissioner Tom Green said no other groups have come forward asking for their flag to be flown but that the transgender community represents “something unique” because it’s the most marginalized in the country right now. “This is way beyond bathrooms,” said Green, referring to the level of violence and discrimination faced by transgender individuals.
According to the Human Rights Council, there were at least 21 transgender individuals who were murdered in 2015 because of who they were. In 2016, it was 22.
Other groups, said Mayor Resnick, could also come forward and suggest the city fly their flag “if they feel marginalized.”