Hate, in all forms, cannot be tolerated, especially at Pride. We’re sharing this statement as a response to two transphobic incidents that occurred during ROC Pride month to one of our transgender team members. We apologize for not publicly addressing this sooner, and we will strive to notify the community immediately if something like this happens again. Every LGBTQIA2S+ community member must forcefully and vocally stand up to trans, non-binary or gender expansive folx being misgendered, harassed, discriminated against or intimidated – especially at our LGBTQ+ events and in our LGBTQ+ spaces.

We’re disgusted and furious that one of Rochester LGBTQ+ Together’s transgender team members was misgendered and harassed at the Rainbow Seniors ROC Pride Picnic by a community member attendee, who repeatedly refused to use their correct pronouns or affirm their gender, even after being corrected. The same team member was also ignorantly and hatefully shouted at by Hebrew National vendors during the Rochester Red Wings Pride Night baseball game, simply for choosing the most gender-affirming restroom. These incidents exemplify why many trans folx chose to stay home and not even attend some Pride events due to very real safety concerns. Trans people shouldn’t have to put their mental and physical well-being in jeopardy, simply to attend community events; they shouldn’t have to yell at people to simply be heard and respected at Pride. This leaves trans, non-binary and gender expansive folx in a fight or flight situation, either having to go to places and be uncomfortable and unsafe or not go and feel disconnected from the community, a choice no one should be forced to make.

Trans-led organizations were also visibly absent from most Pride events this year. A group of trans, Black-led groups opted to boycott and protest Trillium Health’s ROC Pride Festival, which had vendor booths and equipment rental fees that were unaffordable for many small grassroots organizations. Many were also excluded due to the very limited vendor capacity of the event. They formed their own free event outside the festival grounds, providing complimentary food and water for all of the community. This selfless example should serve as the standard for inclusive, accessible Pride events that welcome everyone. None of us can be bystanders when trans folx are unwelcome, excluded or harassed.

There need to be more trans, non-binary and gender expansive seats at the table in planning and organizing Pride events. There were only a couple trans-led events where trans voices were centered during this whole Pride season. So many events here are made specifically by and for cis, white, able-bodied queer people. We really need more for the marginalized, less often catered to parts of the community. Taking the time to involve different voices and put them at the forefront, not playing second fiddle to cis able-bodied folks, would bring whole new perspectives and environments to events. All community organizers and leaders who are unwilling to include transgender voices in their event planning, develop concrete safety plans that prioritize and protect trans and BIPOC folx, or step in to defend trans community members when situations arise should not be organizing community events. Saying and doing nothing is being complicit in transphobia and makes you part of the problem, rather than the solution.

As an LGBTQIA2S+ community, we must listen to and amplify the voices of trans folx, acknowledge and honor those willing and able to endure the emotional labor of sharing their experiences, and continuously challenge and educate ourselves to be better and do better for them. It is totally unacceptable for people in the community to feel unwelcome or unsafe. It’s a no-brainer that every member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community should feel and be affirmed, welcome and safe in LGBTQIA2S+ spaces and at events, not just during Pride season, but year-round. The community as a whole has a lot of work to do; we have a lot of work to do; we all can and must do better for our trans, non-binary and gender expansive siblings. We are challenging ourselves to self-reflect, to learn and do better, and we will work with and support any organization that commits to doing the same.

Just as we are currently experiencing coordinated, increasing attacks against our transgender, non-binary and gender expansive community members nationally, so to are we experiencing an uptick in transphobia within our local LGBTQIA2S+ community. The last place that any LGBTQIA2S+ person should be unwelcome, unaffirmed or unsafe is at Pride, yet this is the case for many in our community. It’s appalling and unacceptable. Rochester LGBTQ+ Together insists on a community dialogue to address transphobia in our community, specifically at Pride.

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