Equality Florida virtually honors Transgender Day of Visibility 2020

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Equality Florida will host a virtual gathering March 31, photo via Equality Florida.

Equality Florida will mark International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV) 2020 on March 31 at 4 p.m. EST with a virtual town hall honoring the transgender community.

TDoV is an annual holiday currently in its 11th year. It celebrates the accomplishments and victories of transgender and gender non-conforming people across the globe while raising awareness of the work still needed to save their lives.

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Transgender and nonbinary discrimination in the LGBTQ community

By : Alec Reynolds
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The LGBTQ community celebrated a milestone in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It was an uprising born of exhaustion and fury over the NYPD’s incessant raids on the LGBTQ bar.

Almost nightly, officers harassed and arrested Stonewall Inn patrons simply for gathering at the Greenwich Village locale. Until June 28, 1969. That’s when LGBTQ patrons stood up and fought back, led by two transgender women of color: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

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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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WFTV’s Jorge Estevez tackles LGBTQ issues in new podcast ‘Under The Rainbow’

By : Jeremy Williams
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Podcasts are fast becoming a primary medium for people to get their news. A CBS News poll conducted earlier this year found that nearly two-thirds of Americans listen to podcasts at least occasionally, with nearly a quarter of the people polled saying they listen several times a week.

With numbers like those, Central Florida’s WFTV Channel 9 knew they needed to get into the podcast business.

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The Pride Chamber honors LGBTQ professionals, community leaders at the 2019 Pride in Business Awards Gala

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Pride Chamber, formerly known as MBA Orlando, recognized LGBTQ business professionals and community leaders at the 2019 Pride in Business Awards Gala, presented by Two Spirit Health, at Hard Rock Live at Universal’s CityWalk in Orlando Aug. 3.

Hosted by Spectrum News 13’s Eric Levy and the legendary Miss Sammy, the evening featured a VIP reception, live entertainment and an epic after party in CityWalk.

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Equality Florida announces inaugural class of TransAction Leadership Academy

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: The inaugural class of Equality Florida’s TransAction Leadership Academy. Photo courtesy Gina Duncan.

ST. PETERSBURG | Equality Florida’s transgender inclusion initiative TransAction Florida has announced the inaugural class of its TransAction Leadership Academy.

The academy is designed to train and develop the next generation of transgender or gender nonbinary (enby) leaders in the areas of advocacy, policy and management. Participants range from ages 18-30 and were required to live in St. Petersburg, commit to attending all classes and present a final dissertation to be considered.

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The Last Page: Brianna Rockmore

By : Rick Claggett
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To run a regional, niche newspaper you need to have a passion for the community you serve and a passion for how your newspaper is connected to that community. You can only hope that those who work with you share your enthusiasm. With Brianna Rockmore, Watermark won the employee lottery.

I usually write a narrative on this page after submitting questions to each employee, but I was so impressed with what Brianna had to say that I decided to use her words to show you who she is. As a self-described goofy class clown, Brianna sees things in a positive and funny way, using comedy to bring people out of despair and into a “full of life kind of way.” This is Brianna Rockmore!

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Our Visibility Matters: Celebrating the 10th Annual International Transgender Day of Visibility

By : Equality Florida
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As a classic book begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So describes the state of the transgender community as we celebrate the 10th Annual International Transgender Day of Visibility.

We come together every year on March 31 to celebrate stepping out of the shadows and being visible and viable members of society. This year has never been more the case, as the transgender community has been visible on a national scale like never before. Sparked by a fractured national dialogue, an administration determined to erase us and daily incidents of alarming violence and overt discrimination; the transgender community has never been more visible or engaged. The transgender discussion spans the globe from the classroom to the White House. Never has there been more awareness of what it means to be transgender, and never has there been more misunderstanding of what it means to be transgender.

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Anti-LGBTQ activists target Pasco County Schools

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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PASCO COUNTY | Anti-LGBTQ activists are targeting Pasco County Schools for the district’s internal efforts to support LGBTQ students, utilizing a 26-page “pastor packet” to mobilize for the “Protect our Children Project” during school board meetings and more.

The project is spearheaded by anti-LGBTQ activist Terry Kemple, president of the Community Issues Council. The organization’s website advises its primary method of operation “is conducting small local gatherings of pastors” to protect “the traditional family” and shield “our children from indoctrination in the public schools.”

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Arrest, charge made in murder of Londonn Moore

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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North Port, Fla. |The North Port Police Department (NPPD) announced Dec. 19 that Juan Salazar-Diaz had been arrested and charged with the murder of Londonn Moore, the fifth reported transgender woman of color murdered in Florida this year.



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PHOTOS: ‘We won’t be erased’ rally held at Orlando City Hall after Trump administration’s anti-trans memo leaked

By : Melanie Ararat
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ABOVE: An audience gathers on the steps of City Hall Plaza in Downtown Orlando for the Orlando We Won’t Be Erased Transgender and Allies Support Rally on Oct. 27. Photo by Melanie Ararat

ORLANDO | Colorful flags and posters waved in the air as people chanted “We won’t be erased” outside City Hall Plaza in Downtown Orlando on Oct. 27. The chant was led by Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality.

“We send this message to the White House saying that the Orlando transgender and gender nonconforming communities will not be erased,” Duncan says. “We will not be defined out of existence.”

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PHOTOS: Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith says YAS! to Pride proposal from partner Jerick Mediavilla

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Come Out with Pride 2018 had a lot of memorable events, but few came close to the marriage proposal during the Pride Rally at the Walt Disney Amphitheater Oct. 13.

LGBTQ activist Jerick Mediavilla went down on one knee in front of thousands of Pride attendees and proposed to his partner, State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

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