Transgender Day of Remembrance Event Shatters Stereotypes of Intolerance in Waco, Texas
November 22, 2011 by Allyson Robinson, Deputy Director for Employee Programs, Workplace Project
The sanctuary of Central Texas Metropolitan Community Church in Waco was packed on Sunday afternoon for the city's first ever observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, shattering stereotypes of intolerance in a town known across the south as the home of Baylor University, the largest Baptist school in the world. As a former resident of Waco and a graduate of Baylor's theological seminary, I was honored and humbled to be invited as they keynote speaker.
After a welcome from Pastor Charley Garrison, those who had gathered heard remarks from Sergeant Chad Ashworth, chief of the Family Violence Unit of the Waco Police Department, and Ms. Toni Herbert, who represents the city's fourth district on the Waco City Council. Reverend Jimmie Johnson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Waco, offered words of encouragement, and a message from Mr. Doug McDurham of Communities in Schools of the Heart of Texas expressed solidarity with those in attendance in the fight to make Waco safe and inclusive of all.
When it was my turn to speak, I told the crowd that whenever I share with people that I came out as transgender in Waco they respond with gasps, assuming that it must have been a terrible experience for me. In reality, though, the experience was safe, healthy and life-giving because I was lucky enough to find community among Wacoans like those who gathered for yesterday's observance. I urged them to work boldly to extend that welcome and affirmation to transgender and gender-variant people throughout their city, and especially to those who don't enjoy the privilege I did as a person who is white, educated and middle class. Allies who are willing to stand courageously against intolerance whenever it appears are critical to our fight to end the violence that claimed dozens of transgender lives again this year, and continues unabated here in America and around the world.
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