April 21, 2020
The New York State legislature is following social distancing protocol, and advocacy groups have organized virtual lobbying meetings to continue their activism. Through their work with the New York Gender Diversity Coalition and other organizations, DSW’s J. Leigh Brantly helped organize an historic day of activism. Transgender, Gender-Non Conforming, Non-Binary (TGNC/NB) Advocacy Day is an annual event where activists, community members, and policy experts from across the state travel to Albany to fight for legislative action on behalf of the TGNC/NB community. This year, thanks to the hard work of movement organizers like J, the community still met, albeit from a distance.
The event began with an address on the state of TGNC rights in New York State. Panels spanned topics of “Sex Work and COVID-19,” “TGNC Healing and Grief,” and lobbying. Brian Romero from the Walking While Trans Coalition taught a webinar on the legislative process in New York State. Jason Walker from the New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG) led a Twitter town hall in which participants used social media to advocate for two of the most critical active bills supporting TGNC/NB rights this session: the Gender Recognition Act (SB0056/A3457) and the Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution repeal bill (SB2253/A654), also known as the “Walking While Trans Ban.”
DSW’s Melissa Broudo facilitated the webinar panel, “Beyond the Transaction: TGNCNB Sex Work and COVID-19.” Panelists included Ceyenne Doroshow, from GLITS and DSW consultant; J. Leigh Brantly of DSW, NYTAG, the Sharmus Outlaw Advocacy & Rights (SOAR) Institute, and Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (GLITS); TS Candii of The Walking While Trans Coalition; and Kiara St. James of NYTAG. The discussion explored how COVID-19 has significantly impacted the sex-worker community; the ways this community has used mutual aid and emergency organizing to mitigate vulnerabilities; and the unique stress this puts on TGNC/NB sex workers.