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D.C. launches transgender rights campaign

Ads featuring five trans Washingtonians will appear throughout the city this fall

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Gay News, Washington Blade, D.C. Transgender

Consuella Lopez is one of the five transgender residents who appears in the campaign (Photo courtesy of the D.C. Office of Human Rights)

Mayor Vincent Gray and other D.C. officials on Thursday officially unveiled the country’s first publicly-funded campaign to combat anti-transgender discrimination.

“We know an ad campaign is not a cure all or a panacea, but it is a step in the right direction,” said Gray at Mova on 14th Street, N.W., before he, Office of Human Rights Director Gustavo Velasquez and others unveiled five separate ads that feature five trans or gender variant people who live in the city. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1;) Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, Earlene Budd of Transgender Health Empowerment and Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, were among the activists and other officials who attended the unveiling. “It is saying that we are going to step out; we are going to be on the forefront; we are going to send a message that people who are transgender have as much a place in the District of Columbia as anybody else.”

The ads, which will remain on display throughout the city during the fall, highlight D.C.’s anti-discrimination law that includes trans-specific protections. They also encourage trans Washingtonians to contact the Office of Human Rights if they experience discrimination based on their gender identity and expression.

The Metropolitan Police Department reported five bias-related crimes based on gender identity and expression during the first six months of this year, compared to two reported anti-trans incidents during the same period in 2011. The stabbing death of Deoni Jones at a Northeast Metro bus stop in February and a Human Rights Report released in July that criticizes D.C. police for confiscating condoms from trans prostitutes and other sex workers underscore what activists maintain is persistent anti-trans violence and discrimination in the nation’s capital.

“As we unveil this campaign and we celebrate, we must acknowledge that the origins of this campaign come in response to a difficult year in which many transgender and gender non-conforming people faced both discrimination and violence in both high-profile incidents and not so high-profile incidents,” said Elliot Imse of the Office of Human Rights. “This is a campaign built with the memories of the individuals both harmed and lost, victims of violence rooted in intolerance and misplaced hatred.”

Consuella Lopez, a hair stylist from Friendship Heights, is among those who appear in the campaign. She told the Blade that a man broke her jaw at a local nightclub in the late 1990s in what she described as an anti-trans hate crime. Lopez stressed that she feels the ads will further educate Washingtonians about the city’s trans residents.

“The message is that it brings awareness and the awareness is that we are part of your community so treat us like you would any other human being or any other woman,” she said.

Wesley, a Capitol Hill resident whom the campaign also features, agreed.

“D.C.’s always had really great laws,” he said. “They’re acknowledging some of the problems that are still going on and I think this is a great way to do it.”

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding

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What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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