When it comes to transgender rights in the District, there's so much more to accomplish, transgender individuals and their allies say. But the volunteer nature of many pro-transgender organizations and a lack of financial resources continue to be hurdles to educating the general public about the ''T'' in the LGBT community.
That's the lesson some are taking from an annual town hall meeting, held Dec. 3 and hosted by The DC Trans Coalition, a local organization advocating for transgender rights and empowerment. The town hall serves as both an informal survey of members of the transgender community and a platform for individuals to air their views openly.
About 40 members of the transgender community and allies gathered to discuss their concerns about accessing competent healthcare, housing rights, violence and holding police accountable.
In 2010, most attending the town hall raised the issue of rampant unemployment among trans people. But with the introduction of transgender cohorts in the Project Empowerment Program, sponsored by the city's Department of Employment Services, as well as promises by city agencies to consider transgender applicants, employment concerns have been surpassed by interest in housing discrimination and culturally competent health care providers.
The town hall also touched on the frequently repeated complaints that some Metropolitan Police Department officers harass transgender individuals, or do not take them seriously when they report crimes. In response to those complaints, organizers of the town hall renewed the call for every MPD officer to undergo mandatory, in-depth, cultural sensitivity training.
''Our annual town hall meetings are great ways for us to hear community concerns and to keep ourselves accountable to the people we serve,'' said Jason Terry of the DC Trans Coalition. ''We look forward to addressing these vital issues raised at this year's town hall in 2012.''