Photo courtesy of Nathan Triplett

Local Governments to Fly Transgender Pride Flags in Michigan

International Transgender Day of Visibility Recognized in Communities Across the State

BY BTL STAFF

The International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31 is an annual holiday dedicated to celebrating transgender people and their identities, but also to raise awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide.

For the first time in Michigan, a number of communities will fly the Transgender Pride Flag outside public buildings in support of the transgender community and their allies.

"We are fortunate to have local elected officials in Michigan who are willing to stand up against discrimination and send a strong message that transgender residents and students are welcomed and valued," said Stephanie White, executive director at Equality Michigan, the organization that helped coordinate the statewide flag display as part of the observance.

"Transgender Michiganders continue to face high rates of harassment and violence in many aspects of daily life. To change that, we need to build awareness and address gaps in legal protections such as the fact that Michigan state law does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Flying the transgender pride flag can be one step in that conversation."

Eight Michigan cities, counties, and school districts will be flying the Transgender Pride Flag including Ypsilanti, Lansing, East Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Ferndale; Ingham and Washtenaw counties; and the Ypsilanti Community School District.

Ypsilanti Mayor Amanda Edmonds was the first to answer the call. She introduced a resolution directing the city to fly the Transgender Pride Flag, which was passed unanimously on March 21.

"At this moment in time it is essential that elected leaders use the privilege afforded to us by being in office to ensure that voice and visibility are given to those in our community often unheard," said Edmonds. "We want everyone to know that Ypsilanti is a welcoming and inclusive community. Flying the Transgender Pride Flag is a small way to show support for people in our community too often subject to injustice and cruelty, and far more likely than others to be a victim of violence or attempt suicide. While our work in creating safety and acceptance for transgender people is far from done, this action is one more step forward."

While the Transgender Day of Visibility is now an international observance, it was created by transgender activist Rachel Crandall-Crocker, the founder of Transgender Michigan.

"The International Transgender Day of Visibility has grown over the years into the global phenomenon that it is today. But it's not happening on its own. The actions that each of these individual local governments are taking are making it happen; without these, the day would mean nothing."

Equality Michigan's initiative was strongly supported and made possible by community partners, like the Jim Toy Community Center in Ann Arbor.

"By recognizing the Transgender Day of Visibility and publicly flying Trans Pride Flags, the city of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Community Schools, and Washtenaw County, among others, are sending the strong, clear and unwavering message that all residents, regardless of gender identity or expression, are welcome and valued in our community," said Travis Radina, president at the Jim Toy Community Center. "At a time when state and federal officials have taken steps to codify discrimination and further marginalize the LGBTQ community, the courageous leadership of local and community leaders, like Ypsilanti Mayor Amanda Edmonds and Washtenaw County Commissioner Jason Morgan, will be critical in the fight for equality and gives us hope for a better future."

A flag raising ceremony will be held by the city of Ypsilanti in front of the Ypsilanti Police Department, 505 W. Michigan Ave. at 8 a.m. on March 31. A ceremony will also be held for the Ypsilanti Community School District at the Administration Building, 1885 Packard Road at 8:30 a.m. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Connect with Transgender Michigan online at http://www.transgendermichigan.org or call the organization's help line at 855-345-TGMI.
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