Last week, we had another wonderful night out in New York City with our friend and current candidate for the Maryland Senate, Dr. Dana Beyer. The Maryland primary election is today and, win or lose, it’s not an exaggeration to say the force is with her. As a trans woman running against an entrenched old boy who happens to be a gay man, she has been heroic in this campaign (and in her previous campaigns for Maryland Delegate) in presenting voters with a true progressive vision that enfranchises all people, not just special interests, not the status quo.
Dana related to us what transpired a couple of weeks ago at Casa Ruby, a Latino LGBT services and resource center in Washington, DC, a place that has long been a focus of VenusPlusX’s support. We weren’t able to be in DC to attend Casa Ruby’s second anniversary celebration and be present to witness the award of the first Dan Massey Ally Award, but it’s made me and our family very happy. From Dana’s Huffington Post weekly column . . .
Alison, together with her husband Dan Massey, is responsible for making the D.C. trans community the presence in the city that it is today. Through their support of the DC Trans Coalition, and particularly Casa Ruby, the city’s leading nonprofit supporting the daily needs of its trans citizens, they made their indelible mark on us all.
Two weeks ago I had the honor of awarding the inaugural Dan Massey Ally Award to Dr. Ted Eytan, who is working assiduously to make the Kaiser health system completely trans-inclusive, trans-supportive and culturally competent.
Those words, and this wonderful new award in Dan’s name, are heartening to hear, but I’d like to give a little context.
Before moving last year from DC to Brooklyn, New York, a few months after Dan suddenly left for higher shores, Casa Ruby became sort of second home to the both of us.
Following our close involvement with the 2011 Equality March Host Committee, Dan and I joined with Casa Ruby founder Ruby Corado, the DC Trans Coalition, and many other local lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) activists and organizations to bring about better public safety, healthcare access, and employment, especially for transfolk, work that had been ongoing for more than a decade. The high incidence of local attacks and murders of trans women in and around DC drives these activists who give all of their free time (and money) to make things better in a selfless wayk
In 2011, VenusPlusX helped establish a pop-up coalition of more than a dozen local organizations, at the time called the TLGB Police Watch. (Putting the T ahead of LGB was my brainstorm, to put the emphasis on the most-discriminated-against group in the fold). This group worked together, first listening to some very scary stories from trans victims and eventually translating these sacrifices into community-wide concerns, goals, strategies, and non-violent actions.
The TLGB Police Watch coalition brought solid demands directly to DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, elected city officials, and to the US Attorney for Washington, DC, giving trans activists’ public engagement a much-needed reboot. And, sure enough, the next day, our phones started ringing with positive results. The following spring, Ruby, Dan, and I took our experience to a national audience with a panel at the Philly Trans Health conference (the largest LGBT conference in the country) to reach out to activists from other cities who were seeking help figure out what more they can do. Click here more info. (If you live in a city that needs help to advance trans rights, please let us hear from you via email@example.com.)
This group of activists has stuck together and grown in size, and continues to make strides to protect and advance trans rights in DC. At each turn, they manage to feast of adversity, and time after time rescue success from the jaws of defeat. The largest trans rally the city had ever seen took place in the summer of 2012, attracting hundreds, and more than 100 new volunteer allies committed that day to work with us. (The press under-reported the number in attendance; I hand counted 235 people). I remember sitting at the sidelines with tears swelling to see how far we had come in making ourselves heard.
Thank you Ruby and Casa Ruby, and thank you Dana, for all that you do. You never seek attention or reward, you just go about doing good to others, the greatest legacy of all.