Transgender Prejudice Reduction

This Sunday, SAVE Dade and faith groups rallied at the Torch of Friendship in Bayfront Park in support of a trans-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance that would protect everyone in Miami-Dade County.

Nearly 100 supporters rallied in support of the proposal, which was withdrawn from consideration before the County Commission earlier this summer after a campaign of misinformation led by extremists and special interests claiming to represent the faithful of Miami-Dade County.

The faith rally put to rest the notion that religious members of our community oppose extending human rights to all. Nearly a dozen faith groups rallied in support human rights, including Unity on the Bay of Miami, Temple Israel of Miami Beach, the Coral Gables Congregational United Christian Church, Trinity Cathedral, Miami Beach Community Church, and All Souls' Episcopal Church of Miami Beach.

The event made a splash in local and national media. The rally received coverage in the Miami Herald, the Huffington Post, and WLRN, to name a few outlets. Allison Grisham of InterfaithOUT, who spoke at the rally, was interviewed by the Miami Herald in the video above.

Scroll down to see pictures of the event:

Last Friday, transgender teen Cassidy Campbell made history by being named the first transgender homecoming queen in Orange County, California. Cassidy was well aware of the symbolism of a potential crowning.

"I realized it wasn’t for me anymore and I was doing this for so many people all around the county and the state and possibly the world and I am so proud to win this not just for me, but everyone out there,” she was quoted as saying by local news station KTLA.

Unfortunately, Cassidy did not have much time to bask in the glow of her surprise win. By the end of the night, she was in tears over what she said were “judgmental” and “hateful” comments leveled at her by those who disapproved of her gender identity.

After posting a tearful video decrying her treatment by bigots and haters, the cyberbullying did not stop. One commenter on the video said "OH PLEASE DIE OF AIDS YOU F***ING F*G!!!!!!!!" Another said, "please commit suicide, it won't hurt to [sic] much and the world would be better."

Thankfully, supportive comments vastly outnumbered bigoted ones, and most hateful comments were either flagged by YouTube users as spam, hidden from view for receiving too many negative votes, or removed altogether for violating YouTube's terms of use, which prohibit hate speech.

Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality sent out an email to followers this morning asking those who believe in acceptance and respect to send Cassidy messages of support.

SAVE Dade also asks our supporters to join in the chorus of support for Cassidy. Please sign the NCTE petition today, and help us send the message that attacking transgender people, and especially our young people, is unacceptable.


Aryah Lester gives a presentation about transgender sensitivity to HOPWA program administrators

SAVE Dade was pleased this week to partner with Miami’s Department of Community and Economic Development as it undertakes the first ever accounting of the city’s transgender population as part of the federally-funded Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program.

HOPWA is a rental assistance program for low- to moderate-income individuals with AIDS and their families. Through HOPWA, the Department of Community and Economic Development assists over 1,000 individuals with AIDS.

Recently, the federal government issued a mandate requiring agencies administering HOPWA programs to collect data on transgender populations. Previously, administrators were required to collect other types of information, but this is the first time that they must collect information on the trans population.

In order to make the data collection possible, the Department of Community and Economic Development collaborated with SAVE Dade to train the city employees responsible for surveying the community on how to most effectively engage transgendered individuals.

SAVE Dade reached out to Aryah Lester to conduct a training of city employees on how to approach collection of data on the trans community. Aryah directs Trans-Miami, a local drop-in resource center on South Beach for the transgender community. She has been an invaluable partner for SAVE Dade’s campaigns, including the TransEquality campaign to pass an all-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance at the countywide level.

“I enjoyed training the surveyors who will be gathering this vital information,” said Aryah. “There is a dearth of data regarding transgender populations nationwide. HOPWA’s adoption of transgender data collection policies will provide concrete numbers for gender non-conforming residents and will help ensure access to services such as housing assistance for those who qualify.”


Pinellas County, home to nearly a million Floridians including the city of St. Petersburg, passed last Tuesday an amendment to the local human rights statute striking the word ‘sex’ from the law and replacing it with ‘gender.’

The change effectively adds to the law protections for the transgender community against discrimination in housing and employment. It excludes religious institutions, small businesses and schools, unlike legislation recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown in California, and does not require the construction of special bathrooms for gender nonconforming individuals.

The new law is very similar to a proposal considered by the Miami-Dade County Commission this summer and recently withdrawn from consideration to be reintroduced at a later date.

However, the Pinellas law differs from the Miami-Dade proposal in that it changes existing language to reflect a more modern understanding of the concept of gender (a psychological trait) versus biological sex (a physical trait assigned at birth). Click here to learn more about the differences between gender, sex, identity, and expression.

The way the existing human rights law in Miami-Dade is written, there is no such opportunity to modify existing language. Instead, the Miami-Dade proposal creates the entirely new categories of gender identity and gender expression on which basis a person cannot be discriminated against. As it was put before the Commission this summer, the Miami-Dade proposal also did not exempt entities like religious institutions and small businesses.

At SAVE Dade, we hope Pinellas County serves as an example for the rest of Florida going forward. If passage of human rights protections for everyone is possible in Pinellas County, it is certainly possible in Miami-Dade and throughout the state of Florida.

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