Transgender People Unite! Day of Empowerment and the Fight in Royal Oak

By Crystal A. Proxmire

Michelle Fox is pissed off. As residents of Royal Oak prepare to vote on the issue of a Human Rights Ordinance in November, transgender people like Fox find themselves the target of a hateful campaign that claims that "men in dresses" will be invading women's rest rooms.

"This is the tactic they used in Hamtramck, and why we lost the Human Rights Ordinance there," she said.

"We are not men in dresses," she says with a loud, shaky voice. "I'm going to get the trans community fired up about this. We're going to raise money. We'll knock on doors. We need to educate the community. We lost in Hamtramck because they passed out fliers with a man in a dress saying 'would you like that going into your women's restroom?'"

Transgender leaders from around southeast Michigan have been meeting to discuss various concerns and how they can work together, including how to counter the false images being presented in Royal Oak by those who oppose employment, housing and public accommodation protections for members of the LGBT community.

The annual Transgender Day of happens to fall on the heels of the latest Royal Oak human rights controversy. The event takes place on Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. at Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale. The Gender Identity Network Alliance (GINA) organizes the event. Various panel discussions, speakers, and a room full of tables with resources for transgender people, gender variant people, parents, doctors, teachers, activists, allies and people who simply want to learn more will be available. There will even be cupcakes from Cupcake Station and other food from Buffalo Wild Wings and Como's.

"And it couldn't come at a better time, because of what certain factions are saying in Royal Oak," Fox said. She explained that Transgender Day of Empowerment is an "uplifting and educational" event, but that it will also serve as a rallying call for those who want to stand up for transgender rights and images.

"I'd love to see a lot of allies come and learn about the transgender community and see the things we go through just to live a normal life," she said. "We just want to have a job, and a home and pay our taxes like other people."

Among the topics covered will be transgender youth, transitioning in the workplace, prejudice within the transgender community, hormones and medical care and discrimination. Transgender people will share their stories and plenty of support and information resources will be available.

Find out more about the event at

Following the day of workshops at Affirmations, there will be a film showing at the Transgender Michigan Office at 429 Livernois at 7 p.m. featuring "Different for Girls." For more information go to

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