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The city of West Hollywood and the Los Angeles County community are marking November as Transgender Awareness Month, highlighting the importance of lifting up trans people and protecting them against hate, discrimination, violence and health care barriers.
“Transgender Awareness Month is important because, although a lot of people are aware of us, they’re not aware that we still need protections and awareness …. and laws that make discrimination against us hate crimes,” trans model and activist Arisce Wanzer said. “‘Punishable by law’ is just exploitation, so people get to use their identity politics and include us in things as the token trans person, and they don’t have to be held accountable or care about what happens to us after the fact.”
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to observe the Transgender Awareness Month, as well as Transgender Day of Remberance, which is marked on Nov. 20.
“It was my honor to bring forward [Los Angeles County’s] resolution, recognizing Transgender Awareness Month, as well as the Transgender Day of Remembrance,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, 3rd District, said. “Both were supported unanimously by my colleagues, and it is clear that, as a board, we are committed to uplifting our trans communities, standing in solidarity with our TGI (transgender, gender diverse or intersex) community, making sure that they have services and support – that it is not just something that we say, but it is something we live out in our services and our work each and every day.”
West Hollywood will hold several events for Transgender Awareness Month, including a fashion show held in partnership with TransLatin@Coalition on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Pacific Design Center, located at 8687 Melrose Ave. Tickets can be purchased at garras.org.
The Church of Trans Love’s Trans Love Dance will be held on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center Respite Deck, located at 8750 El Tovar Place. The event is free and will include music from DJ Asha, as well performance and dance rituals from Loretta Lorriane and Shakina Nayfack.
A TransGiving Dinner will be held on Nov. 19 at 5 p.m., sponsored by the Unique Women’s Coalition, a nonprofit that concentrates on centering the needs and stories of Black trans culture. For information, including where to RSVP and receive the location, visit uwc.org.
The West Hollywood City Council said the events are necessary in the current political climate to protect trans individuals.
“Support and visibility for our transgender community members is vital, now more than ever, as we continue to hear reports of hate crimes and incidents targeting transgender people,” Council-woman Lauren Meister said. “Transgender Awareness Month activities in the city of West Hollywood help to focus positive attention on the transgender community and we invite the larger West Hollywood community to commit to continuing to work for full equality, respect, safety and dignity of our transgender community members.”
“West Hollywood is a safe haven for our transgender community,” Mayor Pro Tempore John Erickson said. “We were not only the first city in the county to have a transgender task force (now advisory board), but we are committed to ensuring that equality for all is a priority here in West Hollywood for our transgender and gender non-binary siblings in a time where states and local cities continue to attack our communities with forced-outing policies and other draconian laws meant to take us back to the Dark Ages. We won’t go back, and we will always fight for the many communities that call West Hollywood home.”
“Transgender people especially transgender youth have been targeted for violence and political attacks,” Councilman John Heilman said. “It’s very important for us to support our transgender residents and neighbors and speak out against hatred and transphobia.”
Gender-affirming surgeon Dr. Maurice Garcia, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, discussed the importance of health care for the transgender community.
“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, especially at their doctor’s office,” Garcia said. “Cedars-Sinai offers comprehensive transgender medicine primary care, gender-affirming hormone management, HIV care and gender-affirming surgery (facial, chest, genital). It is one of only four academic medical centers in the Western U.S. that offer male-to-female and female-to-male gender-affirming genital surgery, and we offer several other types of surgeries to meet the needs of our patients.”
In discussing a trans person’s journey, Garcia invoked the basic needs of an individual’s humanity.
“A person undergoing gender transition is simply someone who has finally come out to themselves, and/or others, and wants to live their life as their true self,” he said.
For more information about gender-affirming care, visit cedars-sinai.org/newsroom/transgender-health-expert-answers-your-common-questions.
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