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Transgender Advocates Plan Town Hall In Plattsburgh

Transgender symbol
ParaDox/Wikimedia from a drawing by Holly Boswell

A recently formed statewide network advocating for transgender rights has been holding a series of town hall forums throughout New York.  The latest is scheduled Wednesday evening in Plattsburgh.
The Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming advocates networkis holding the town halls to find out what communities need and to create interest to advocate for the rights of transgender individuals.

Kelly Metzgar, who is coordinating the Plattsburgh Town Hall, explains that the meetings are being held after the disbanding of the state’s primary LGBT advocacy group – Empire State Pride Agenda.
“That left transgender communities all around the state rather isolated in the various areas in which we live. So we are holding these town hall type gatherings all over the state. And what we are looking for is: what are the issues that transgendered people are facing in the various areas in which we live. What are their needs and how can we help them, as well as develop policies and action plans that we can then take to the New York State legislature and say these are the needs of our community.”

Metzgar adds that transgender individuals face discrimination throughout the state in part because the legislature has failed to act.   “The New York State Assembly has passed the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act for the ninth straight year. But the New York State Senate has refused to even bring it to the floor and so there is a great deal of discrimination. Many people have been fired from their jobs or been denied housing, denied medical care, denied financial services, denied use of public accommodations just because of who we are. We are like everybody else.”

Clinton County Area 9 Legislator, Democrat Chris Rosenquest hopes to attend Plattsburgh’s town hall on transgender issues.   “I don't know if it's because I'm a legislator. I think gender issues and non-conforming issues, sexuality issues, have all been something that I have been an advocate for in terms of providing equal rights to people providing equal access to all kinds of people. And not it’s not just based on race but it is also based on gender and gender equality. Part of it is education. It's the demystifying of people that doesn't go by their birth agenda. I think that's part of an ongoing diversity dialogue. What they have to face, the types of inequality and discriminations that they have to face in the workplace, with housing, with health care. So just understanding where our shortcomings are, understanding where our gaps are, understanding as a community where we can be more inclusive of everybody's point of view where it makes sense I think that's where the diversity conversation comes in. And it's well worth the time and effort and energy put into having these types of conversations so that we can start to break down barriers. And it goes beyond just the trans community. For me it's just the overarching we're human beings on this planet. How can all be equal about it?”

The Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Town Hall will discuss issues between 6 and 9 pm Wednesday evening at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 4 Palmer Street in Plattsburgh.

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