National LGBTQ Organization Launches “TOP Notch,” a FundraIsing Initiative for Trans People Seeking Surgeries

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The Change Project, National LGBTQ Arts and Advocacy organization, supports transgender people seeking medical transition through shirt sales campaign.

What: In order to help offset the high costs of gender affirmation surgeries, The Change Project has launched TOP Notch (Trans Operation Project). Participants will be able to sell popular Change Project t-shirts through a customized storefront on the shop’s website, www.shopprogress.org, to raise funds for operations and medical transition. Participants will receive 50% of profits of shirts and merchandise.

When: Immediately

Where: Throughout the United States

Who: The Change Project, National LGBTQ Art and Advocacy Organization

Press Contact: Ethan Winters, TOP Notch Coordinator, topnotch@embodyprogress.org; Steven Romeo, Founder and Executive Director, steven@embodyprogress.org

Why:  Many transgender, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming people seek medical transition through avenues such as hormone replacement therapy, laser hair removal, chest reconstruction, and genital reconstruction. Very few transgender related procedures are covered by insurance, and many transgender folks have difficulty accessing insurance based care at all. Gender reassignment therapy can cost upwards of $30,000, hormone replacement therapy more than $1,000 a year,  and facial feminization procedures up to $60,000 (Bradford, 2015)

With the high prices and policy procedures that transgender people face, many are unable to receive the medical treatment and procedures that would help restore their feeling of wholeness and alignment with their identity. Through TOP Notch, The Change Project seeks to create pathways to funding procedures that would otherwise be out of reach, and budget, to trans people.

“It has always been my dream to provide space and assistance to transgender individuals, in a world that tells us we are not worthy to even use the bathroom we feel comfortable in. I get to influence this program and make it better for every single person to come after me, and every person who becomes a part of this program will have their experience transform this program and make it even better. That is why I believe in this program and that is why I am proud to be a participant and the coordinator.” -Ethan Winters, campaign participant and coordinator

References: Bradford, E. (2015, February 24). You Won't Believe How Much It Costs to Be Transgender in America. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.teenvogue.com/story/transgender-operations-hormone-therapy-costs

National LGBTQ Organization Releases “Trans Tennessee Stories” Video

National LGBTQ Organization Releases “Trans Tennessee Stories” Video

 “It was amazing to participate in such a cool project. I felt that The Change Project really cared about what I had to say, and how I wanted to say it. They prioritized narratives of transgender people, something that is a huge service gap here in Tennessee. I am honored to be part of this video.” -Oliver Bastidas, video participant.

Vulcan Beverage Issues Apology; Embody Progress Conference Provides Needed LGBTQ Competency Trainings

Vulcan Beverage Issues Apology; Embody Progress Conference Provides Needed LGBTQ Competency Trainings

Embody Progress Conference this summer in Birmingham to educate attendees from around the nation on the issues facing the LGBTQ community, including the lack in competency of services for trans and gender nonconforming individuals. Thank you to everyone who spoke out yesterday, and we encourage you all to continue raising your voices against injustice.

Anti-Trans Violence is No Laughing Matter: The Change Project Condemns Vulcan Beverage Sign

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Late Saturday night, the above picture was shared to a Birmingham community Facebook group. The sign, which belongs to the Vulcan Beverage liquor store and is clearly visible to passing traffic, reads “If Bruce Jenner goes missing will his picture be on a carton of half & half.” Vulcan Beverage’s willingness to throw trans people under the bus to generate advertising and business is disgusting, though unsurprising. Even less surprising was the immediate calls for people to “stop being so sensitive” and “grow a thicker skin.”

At the end of the day, such responses are callous and serve no purpose but to silence those targeted by this sign. Many transgender people experience homelessness and poverty due to discrimination in housing and employment. “Jokes” like that on the Vulcan Beverage sign send a message that dismissing trans individuals’ identities is acceptable and encourages transphobia. What’s more, the sign makes light of Caitlyn Jenner going missing in a world where trans women face an all too real threat of actual violence. Trans women - especially trans women of color - are disproportionately more likely to be victims of murder and assault. There were over 26 reported murders of trans people in the U.S. last year, and there have already been two reported murders since New Year’s alone.

The Vulcan Beverage sign contributes to a toxic atmosphere of transphobia and violence. We call on the business owners to remove this horrible sign immediately, and encourage them to meet with transgender Birmingham residents so they can hear exactly why transphobia is no laughing matter. The Change Project condemns this action and is calling for other members of the Birmingham community to also condemn this action by signing on to this post.

Steven Romeo - Founder/Executive Director of The Change Project

Matthew Pagnotti - President; Board of Directors of The Change Project

Destiny Clark - President; Central Alabama Pride

Alex Smith - President; Equality Alabama Action Fund

Daroneshia Duncan - Founder/Executive Director of TAKE

For Press Inquiries email contact@embodyprogress.org

Here is more information on why misgendering someone matters: http://www.salon.com/2016/02/10/gender_neutral_pronouns_partner/

 

UPDATE: As of 10:41PM on January 15, 2017 Vulcan Beverage has changed the sign and issued an apology on their Facebook page. "I would like to apologize on behalf of this company for the sign recently presented in front of our store. We apologize to anyone offended by this. None of us would knowingly make a joke at the expense of a group of people, especially one already marginalized and so frequently mocked in our society. That wasn’t at all the intent, and it didn’t occur to us it could be seen that way when it was made. I have made many mistakes in life and I am sure I have a few more to go. Please forgive us and know we show extreme support for this culture at large." The sign now looks like the image below.