TJFP volunteer Rebecca Wisotsky chatted over the phone with our 2013 grantees to learn more about what their year has been like organizing their communities, providing public education and services, and working towards trans justice. Our grantees generously took the time to share their stories, including their success and challenges. Come meet some of our incredibly dedicated and inspiring grantees from across the country!
While reflecting back on my conversation with Rev. J and her work with Rainbow Community Cares (RCC), I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of capturing her remarkable commitment. Sure, I could start with posting RCC’s mission, talk about how they aim to serve “as a resource with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning people in the Raleigh, NC area and beyond to promote community reconciliation and enlarge the scope of spiritual expression within organized communities…” But, as with many TJFP grantees, my conversation with Rev. J went deeper than that and got to the core of why trans justice is critical to all movements. How do you express the importance and passion behind someone so committed to this work and making trans justice a true daily lived reality? I’m not always sure how to do it, but I’m about to try.
Rev. J volunteers over 40 hours a month at the LGBT Center of Raleigh just to be available to people looking for support, looking for a connection. As a minister, she creates services, ceremonies and rituals for life passages like name changes and transitions. Rev J and RCC are also creating tools that help allied faith communities engage in advocacy work with LGBTQ people. Since faith communities have historically been instrumental in shaping and supporting policies and laws, they also have the influence to help people become better educated on the issues and concerns that transgender and gender non-conforming people face. There is so much work to be done with faith communities to help them understand how they may be supporting policies and laws that hurt trans and gender non-conforming people. RCC has developed a document to be used when helping allied faith communities discern how to best work in engaging in advocacy for LGBTQ folks within their faith community and beyond. To gain access to this and the plethora of resources RCC provides, visit their website.
RCC’s presence as transgender and gender non-conforming folks is extremely important as they respond to the daily discrimination and violence their communities face. They organize and co-facilitate the monthly Affirming Faith Forum at the LGBT Center of Raleigh where local leaders participate in discussions around life issues and needs for LGBTQ folks, their families, and friends. They have been working to encourage people to report incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence, knowing that transgender and gender non-conforming folk face discrimination, harassment and violence at a high rate, and that the data collection on these incidents is poor. Communities of faith can also learn how to better support survivors and work towards preventing violence.
So, I again ask myself—and you, as a reader of this blog—how do you express the importance and passion behind making trans justice a true daily lived reality? Connect with Rainbow Community Cares, one of our other grantees or applicants, or with TJFP, and let us know!
Rebecca Wisotsky, a queer, Puerto Rican Jew from New Mexico, with New Yorkers for parents, has been working towards social justice since she was first able to say “justicia.”