Meet Jenn in the latest installment of our on-going profiles of Trans Justice Working Group members. She’s one of the folks leading the Trans Justice work at Basic Rights Oregon.
How long have you been part of the Trans Justice program?
To the best of my knowledge, I’ve been part of the Working Group since the beginning, which I think is more than 2 years ago now.
Why do you do this work?
As a woman of transgender experience and even more importantly, someone who was a transgender child and youth, I wanted to be certain that the specific and unique needs of transgender (and gender non-conforming) children and youth were both represented and whenever possible, kept in the forefront of the work that the Working Group does.
What is your background with social justice/community organizing work, and how did you start working with the Trans Justice program?
I have been active in doing a variety of things related to working with trans populations and educating the public about trans issues since childhood, really. I guess my first efforts were centered around getting my parents and adults around me to listen to what I was saying about my own gender. That moved into trying to educate doctors and therapists when I “came out” as trans at the age of 12. I’ve developed and facilitated trans peer support groups for more than 20 years, served in the Midwest as the Vice-President of the Chicago Gender Society back in the 80’s and many other activities connected to social justice and trans awareness.
Why is ending health care discrimination against trans people so important?
Simply because the denial of access to affordable, competent, medically approved and necessary health care for transgender people, simply because they ARE transgender is arbitrary, discriminatory and economically devastating to transgender people, a large percentage of whom already live at or below the federal poverty level due to job discrimination.
If you could have any super power what would it be?
Super intellect… so that I could figure out exactly how to explain to societies and governments, in words they would not only understand, but be unable to deny logically, the need for ALL people to be respected and affirmed in their gender identity and gender expression and that, most importantly, forcing our children and youth to fit into cookie cutter lives simply because it’s more convenient for the adults if they do so is, on its face, child abuse.