Transgender Community Meeting a huge success

Last night’s Transgender Community Meeting brought together nearly 40 transgender Coloradans to talk about how One Colorado can help address the needs and priorities of the transgender community in Colorado. Lively discussion revealed both great ideas and exciting possibilities for moving forward.

To start off the meeting, One Colorado Executive Director, Brad Clark, shared the results of our 2010 poll of Coloradans. The results of this poll reveal the opinions of the public and show that they’ve been moving steadily in our direction since 2006, when Coloradans voted against providing domestic partnerships for LGBT couples.

Next, we looked at the results of our needs assessment survey of over 4,600 LGBT Coloradans, and we closely examined some of the results from transgender respondents. Transgender respondents made up 3% of total survey takers. Some of the key findings about the transgender community include:

  • 84% of transgender Coloradans have suffered verbal abuse.
  • 38% of transgender Coloradans are in committed relationships.
  • 12% of transgender Coloradans are unemployed.
  • 38% of transgender Coloradans make less than $10,000 per year.

Following the needs assessment results, we broke into small groups to discuss three questions:

  • What is missing from the survey? What does One Colorado need to know about the trans community in Colorado?
  • Do the top three priorities (safe schools, relationship recognition, and healthcare) identified in the needs assessment accurately match your priorities?
  • What are the barriers to deeper involvement from the trans community? How do we address those barriers?

Responses to question one included requests for deeper exploration of the issues surrounding health care and insurance and for a new survey of the trans community now that One Colorado is more well-known and trusted. Because One Colorado was virtually unknown when the needs assessment was conducted, many members of the trans community refused to respond, fearing that they would be “outed” and suffer negative consequences of providing their information.

Responses to question two identified that employment and housing are higher priorities than relationship recognition, safe schools, and health care. Background checks that reveal a different name are too often a cause for concern or suspicion from potential employers, landlords, mortgage lenders, and others—making it difficult for transgender Coloradans to secure employment and housing.

Question three revealed a number of barriers that keep the trans community from being involved, including finances, accessibility, transportation, and fear of being out. Meeting attendees called for laws that have real “teeth” and provide true protection and enforcement. Local and statewide organizations also need to make a greater effort to engage transgender leaders because real progress cannot be accomplished until trans voices are at the table and heard.

The lively discussion that occurred both in small and large groups was both exciting and eye-opening. While there is much work that needs to be done to improve the lives of transgender Coloradans, there is no lack of leadership within the trans community to work with us to overcome barriers and fulfill the needs of the community. To begin this important work, One Colorado has pledged to hold quarterly meetings that will allow the trans community to stay involved with our work and hold us accountable to them.

Special thanks go out to our community meeting co-sponsors, The GLBT Center of Colorado (who also graciously hosted the event) and the Gender Identity Center – and to everyone who attended and spoke so honestly about their needs and concerns. We truly appreciate the open discussion and look forward to moving forward with you to address the needs and priorities of transgender Coloradans.

If you’d like to get involved with our work with transgender Coloradans, please contact our Field Manager, Shannon Masden, at 303-396-6170 or shannonm@one-colorado.org.