Transgender community honors members, allies at annual Day of Empowerment
The Gomez family receives several awards
Published Thursday, 15-Apr-2010 in issue 1164
The transgender community honored its advocates and allies and celebrated its achievements at its seventh annual Transgender Day of Empowerment last Friday.
“Tonight is a night that we celebrate the transgender community and honor those who have gone above and beyond for us to live a good and happy life,” said transgender activist Connor Maddocks, who welcomed the event’s 100 or so attendees.
The event, held at the San Diego LGBT Community Center, included several speakers, an award ceremony and performances by poet Liam Kukuchek, singer Kaiden Montana and dance group Transgeneros Unidas.
Sen. Christine Kehoe gave the event’s opening message, which emphasized the transgender community’s continuing challenges and recent achievements.
“Today’s challenges in being transgender still lingers. Finding the confidence and safety to come out in transition is the first obstacle. Finding acceptance amongst friends and families continue to be difficult for some,” Kehoe said. “Each of these challenges has to be met by us working together, by us organizing politically and making sure that programs are there to support the community.”
Kehoe insisted that while challenges still abound, the transgender community had some cause for celebration.
Last January, President Obama appointed Amanda Simpson, a transgender woman, to be the Commerce Department’s senior technical adviser, the senator noted.
Kehoe also mentioned that Congress is expected to vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a proposed federal law that would make workplace discrimination against GLBT people illegal.
After Kehoe spoke, and handed out Senate accommodations to the night’s honorees, event organizers presented awards to several individuals and one family for their advocacy of transgender people.
The Gomez family received several awards for supporting their 15-year-old son Isaac Gomez during his transition from FTM as well as Isaac Gomez’s advocacy for transgender youth.
Both Isaac Gomez and his mom Monica Nunez-Cham gave the night’s keynote speech.
“The most important thing for me as a person and as a mother is to feel the power of love, loving my son, loving my kids,” Monica Nunez-Cham said.
“I feel like I’m the luckiest person alive because I’ve had so many people in my life who have given me the power to be myself and of course one of them is my mom,” Isaac Gomez said.
The audience gave the mom and son a standing ovation at the end of their speech.
City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez presented Monica and Isaac Gomez with a special accommodation on behalf of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission.
“I must say that you are blessed to have a mother and a family like you do because there are many of us to this day whose family have rejected them,” Murray-Ramirez said. “So my message to you, in honoring this family, is to cherish those family members and friends that do accept you.”
“The Gomez family’s support and response displayed during Isaac’s transition is heartwarming. It is an inspiration for every member of the transgender community,” Kehoe said.
Murray-Ramirez also presented a $1,000 check to Sandra Ramirez, who heads Transgenero 2000, a transgender Latina group, for its upcoming 10th anniversary celebration and announced that the Imperial Court contributed $800 to Parent, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to complete its editing of a video on Latino families with GLBT children featuring the Gomez family. Local businessperson Rick Ford will cover the cost of producing the video, Murray-Ramirez said.
Transgender advocate and ally Gwen Snyder received one of two appreciation awards handed out.
Snyder operated a beauty parlor in North Park in the 1990s that provided cosmetic services to transitioning women and continues to work with the community by helping transgender youth find employment.
“There are angles among us, and Gwen Snyder happens to be one of those angels, said Day of Empowerment Planning Committee member Monique Phillips, who presented Snyder with the award.
After accepting the award, Snyder said, “I met my friends in the transgender community so long ago when I started becoming aware of some of the hideous things that were happening. I started working on these gals to get them into a better situation, and it just never stopped.”
Local photographer/videographer Xena Warrior received the second appreciation award for her activism and work.
“Xena has a heart of gold, and I am honored and proud to present it to her,” said transgender activist Brenda Watson, before presenting Warrior with the award.
Advocate for transgender Latinas, Tita Viveiros, and Cory Craver and Anna Burchwell-Craver, founders of a recently emerged transgender advocacy group called TransNation, received an award for community service.
Family Health Center of San Diego’s Project Star Coordinator Tracie O’Brien, who co-hosted the event, sprinkled it with a blend of vignettes and advice.
“You know what? It’s really important that we have each other. When I go to my girls and my guys, I tell them to find that special person that can be your friend because when your trying to live your life as a transgender person, life can be very difficult,” O’Brien said. “Men and women come and go, but good friends are forever.”