Statewide public education campaign celebrates dignity, diversity and humanity of transgender Washingtonians
A new innovative statewide public education campaign aims to celebrate the dignity, diversity and humanity of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Available to the public at TRANSformWashington.com, the campaign aims to increase public understanding that everyone, including transgender friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors, deserve the freedom to live their lives with privacy, safety and dignity.
The stories and experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming Washingtonians and their families, featured on the site, offer visitors an opportunity to better understand what it means to be transgender.
The campaign leaves open the statement Transgender people are _____ and then fills in the blank with photos and stories from transgender people who are parents, musicians, health care practitioners, children, grandparents, students, and so on.
“Just 23% of people in Washington say they personally know someone who is transgender. So it’s not surprising the general public doesn’t understand what it means to be a transgender or gender non-conforming person,” said project coordinator Jeremiah Allen, who is a transgender man and parent to three children.
Nicole Browning, Board President of Pride Foundation, said, “As a lesbian and an ally, I have learned so much from my transgender colleagues, friends and family. I am excited to be a part of this effort so I can better support my community and understand the diverse lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people at this critical time in our state.”
Just two months ago, a group tried, and failed, to gather enough signatures to put an initiative on the 2016 ballot to repeal Washington’s 10-year old non-discrimination protections for transgender people.
“We want to increase public understanding that all of us, including our transgender friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, and children, deserve the freedom to live our lives with privacy, safety and dignity,” said TRANSform Washington Advisory Committee member Rochelle Long of Renton, who is the mother of four children, including one transgender child.
The campaign emphasizes that transgender people come from every walk of life, ethnicity and from every corner of the Evergreen state. What transgender people have in common is that they face greater discrimination and violence just for being who they are.
“Transgender people, like me, are a part of the fabric of our community – we are parents, grandparents, children, business owners, musicians, health care practitioners, college students, retirees, employees, and veterans,” said TRANSform Washington Advisory Committee member Everett Maroon, of Walla Walla, who is a transgender man, parent and author.
The TRANSform Washington website features Cheryl, a retired transgender woman in her 70’s who lives in Gig Harbor with her husband Tom. “I want to demonstrate to the world that we are successful people who live lives of good work and positive success,” she says.
“What’s great about our state is that Washingtonians believe everyone should treat each other with understanding and respect, and expect the same in return,” said TRANSform Washington Advisory Committee member Lucas Leek, a transgender man who lives and works in Spokane. “We believe all Washingtonians deserve to be safe, to be their true selves, and to live free from discrimination.”
Pride Foundation, a regional community foundation investing in full equality for LGBTQ people across the Northwest, is funding the new digital campaign, which features profiles, photos and first-person accounts, along with an online video series that will be available later this year. TRANSform Washington is similar to public education campaigns recently launched in Alaska, California and New Hampshire.