The epidemic of transgender violence in Florida and the missteps that follow

By : Gina Duncan
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ABOVE: Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality Gina Duncan speaks during the “Rally to End Hate” in 2016. Photo courtesy Equality Florida

As the State Director of Transgender Equality at Equality Florida, I have been advocating for transgender civil rights for a decade. As a white, trans woman, I have never felt personally vulnerable, afraid or concerned for my personal safety until these last two years.

Recently, I have felt the weight of fear and rapid beating of my heart as I experienced being verbally attacked, intentionally misgendered and physically threatened by hate-filled people gaslighted by our current anti-transgender national rhetoric. In 2018, more than two dozen transgender Americans were reported murdered in the United States.

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11.14.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Progress, not perfection: One of the many mantras for those in a 12-step program. The idea is that no one is perfect; therefore striving for or searching for perfection is futile. One should simply try to do the next right thing, work toward being better one day at a time. It sounds nice on paper, but putting it in practice is much more difficult. It takes tools and time to train your brain to think this way.

I can’t say if this is the way things have always been or if I am just opening my eyes to it in the wake of information overload, but our society seems too preoccupied with perfection — giving way to an all or nothing culture.

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High Fidelity: Dumbledore and Decisions

By : Miguel Fuller
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There’s a scene in one of the “Harry Potter” books where the character’s mentor Professor Dumbledore spars with a bad guy, releasing magic from his powerful wand to block out evil forces. Even though I grew up in a religious household where my grandmother wanted nothing to do with the books because they were witchcraft in her eyes—and that’s the devil. I always read that scene and thought about her.

She was always a powerful but quiet force of nature who knew exactly what was going on. When she spoke, people listened. People moved. That was the grandmother I knew while growing up.

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Trans of Thought: Dying to be seen

By : Melody Maia Monet
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A few weeks ago, the very first National Trans Visibility March was held in Washington, D.C. As described in their call to action, the purpose of the march was to bring attention to “the social structures that have oppressed us and disenfranchised our communities.”

Thanks to the One Orlando Alliance and generous sponsors, about 50 transgender people, including myself and a few allies, made the road trip to our nation’s capital to participate. It was without a doubt a profound and inspiring experience for all of us who went, but perhaps not as successful in making our issues more “visible” to the cisgender, queer community.

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10.31.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’m nearly two years younger than the educational organization D.A.R.E., or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and my early schooling reflects that. Preventative programming was all the rage in the early 90s.

D.A.R.E. was designed to provide students with the tools to resist drugs, alcohol and other high risk behaviors. It still exists today, albeit without the same fanfare, led by police officers in thousands of classrooms across the country. Among other things, it’s committed to helping students from kindergarten through grade 12 “resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.”

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10.31.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I’m always fascinated to hear stories about how people different from me grew up. The traditions and rules, comparing notes to find ways their families did things verus how my family did things makes for an interesting discussion.

Something that was never seen as odd to anyone in my family but was shocking to my friends, is that we had a TV in each of the bedrooms. I remember the wide-eyed look from friends when they saw my brother and I not only had a TV in our shared bedroom, but we also had cable. We were living the highlife.

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The Other Side of Life: Our Pumpkin Patch

By : Jason Leclerc
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For the past few years, in the time between the Epiphany and MLK Day, the pumpkins we set out in the yard after Thanksgiving finally deflate, broadcasting seeds into a corner of our yard for the next year’s patch of potential jack-o-lanterns. We watch as those vines yield breathtaking, bright orange flowers and then, lately, as the next Halloween tricks by us, wither without ever yielding pumpkins.

For two years now, our patch has been quick to tease and slow to yield. Despite the fact that male flowers and female flowers live on the same vine, they have been unable to pollinate each other. The swollen stamen remain unsatisfied by the pistils just inches away.

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Keeping It Real: Advocacy for a reason, a season or a lifetime?

By : Nathan Bruemmer
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I’ve been racking my brain lately to try and remember the first advocate I was introduced to as a child. As a good Catholic, I’m pretty sure it was St. Francis of Assisi. He was the patron saint of animals.

I was introduced to a long line of other saints in Catholic school, but in the secular world I found so many more. I learned from and was inspired by Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela and so many more.

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#LoveHandlin: Health and Compassion

By : Jerick Mediavilla
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“Bless you!” it’s the first reaction people say when someone sneezes, wishing them good health, assuming something could be off. The origin of this widespread tradition is somewhat unknown, but the true wish behind it is clear: We want everybody to look and feel healthy.

The scientific community has contributed widely to our perception of health, which not only encompasses physical traits, but also mental qualities and spiritual realms. I firmly believe that, whatever the reason we choose to wish someone good health, it is because our natural, primal need is to be compassionate towards others, and that is a trait many can perceive as corny.

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10.17.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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It’s time for me to see a therapist. In fact, it’s long overdue. I don’t say this because something is wrong; therapy isn’t about having a problem. Really, everyone should see a therapist. It is sad to me that there is a negative connotation to doing so. Communication is so vital and that includes communicating with yourself.

I’ve been a couple of times in my life. My first visit was when I came out to my mom at the age of 16. She wanted to make sure we both had our heads wrapped around the concept of me being gay. The second was a result of my drinking problem, years before I admitted I had one. I had no-called, no-showed to work after a night of binge drinking and then headed back to the bar when I woke up at three in the afternoon. Hindsight’s 20/20, amiright?

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Positive Living: For me, it’s Buttigieg in the primary

By : Greg Stemm
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We LGBTQ folks have an unprecedented opportunity to vote for one of our own in the upcoming 2020 election cycle. Our candidate’s name is Pete Buttigieg—he’s openly gay, married to his husband and he is seeking the nomination to become the Democratic candidate for president of the United States.

I plan to vote for Buttigieg in the primary, and as members of the LGBTQ community I urge you to do the same. If he has the guts to run, we should have the fortitude to support him. Now is the time for community unity.

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: What’s behind door number 3?

By : Michael Wanzie
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“Remember, if it doesn’t say Amana it’s NOT a Radar Range!”

How clearly I remember that advertising slogan from my youth. That tag line was always touted whenever the new-fangled contraption would be awarded to winning contestants on TV’s “Let’s Make A Deal” or “Truth or Consequences.”

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