8 People One Colorado Wants You to Know for Transgender Day of Visibility 2021

Every year on March 31st, we celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility to recognize the incredible contributions transgender people have made to society and bring awareness to the discrimination the trans community continues to face. While nine out of ten US adults say they know someone who is gay or lesbian, only about one in three say they know someone who is transgender. Understanding the importance of visibility, One Colorado takes today to highlight the accomplishments of trans folks who inspire us.

Rachel Esters
(featured by Marvyn Allen, Health Equity & Training Director)

I want to highlight Rachel Esters, because she is a leader in Colorado. Rachel is a highly-skilled facilitator and consultant on transgender inclusion in the workplace (among many other topics) and an advocate for transgender people and people of color. To me, being an ally to the trans community means you honor our humanity and yours, and you do the work.

Dianna Cicotello – Trailblazer, Activist, Mentor, Friend
(featured by Leslie Wright, One Colorado Board Member)

I first met Dainna (pronounced Dana) in 1992 when I joined Speakers Project to End Discrimination (SPED) a small, grassroots, Denver non-profit that started in reaction to the passage of Amendment 2. Dainna was a long time local and national activist for trans rights and was an amazing speaker and trainer. She was also a wife, mother, veteran, friend, and one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever met. 

In the 80s and 90s Dainna was one of a handful of people who created the modern definition of the word “transgender”. She was not afraid to speak out against inequality locally and nationally and in 2002 appeared on the Montelle Williams show with her daughter, Laurie, where they talked about the relationship between daughter and parent as Dainna transitioned in 1985 from male to female.

Dainna would often share about being a legally married same-sex couple long before same-sex marriage became law because she and her wife, Mary, remained married after Dainna’s transition. They renewed their wedding vows on their 46th anniversary! From Dainna’s research, they were the first couple in America to stay married through the transition of one partner. Their marriage paved the way to marriage equality in Colorado and Hawai’i.

One of my fondest memories of Dainna was when, during SPED trainings, she would facilitate the Folding Arms experiential exercise, which creates in participants a physically aching experience of what it is like to hide a part of oneself. The way she facilitated this training was so impactful, and she did it with such empathy and feeling. Dainna died in 2018 at the age of 70 after leaving a legacy of activism, truth-telling and change-making. 

Being an ally to the trans community is one way I honor Dainna, her family, and my SPED colleagues.  You are missed and loved Dainna. Rest in Peace my friend.

Angelica Ross
(featured by Nadine Bridges, Executive Director)

Angelica Ross is a powerhouse in the community. I am always amazed by her ability to push for human rights and make pathways to ensure that transgender folks have opportunities to be successful. As a cisgender, queer black woman, I want to be accountable to the privilege I hold and work to dismantle those power dynamics and systems that exclude transgender people from living fully as who they are. I want to work to amplify transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender expansive folks in the movement towards social justice.

Javie Saenz
(featured by Heidi Jeanne Hess, Western Slope Field Organizer)

Javie is a staple of the Delta and Mesa counties community.  As a trans advocate and leader, Javie has been instrumental in bringing trans, and specifically trans youth, issues to the forefront.  He is dedicated, loving and deeply committed to the LGBTQ community in Colorado and his family.

Em Moratto
(featured by Alexander Wamboldt, Youth & Schools Program Manager)

In Jewish tradition, we speak of joining a people when you agree to share their fate as your own. I think of being an ally as sharing my fate with people who do not share my identities—this means sharing my privileges and sharing some of the risks others must face everyday. In this spirit, I am honored as an ally to highlight Em Moratto for Transgender Day of Visibility for the amazing work she has done and continues to do in bettering Colorado (and the world) for transgender and nonbinary people. Em is the cofounder and director of Out of Yer Shell, a fantastic resource for transgender and nonbinary people by transgender and nonbinary people, as well as a former intern at One Colorado, where she worked to improve medical access for young transgender and nonbinary people. I cannot wait to see how Em will continue to better our community and am proud to continue to stake my fate with hers.

 

Patricio “Pat” Manuel
(featured by Mikayla Rogers, Development & Communications Coordinator)

I’m inspired by Patricio Manuel, who was the first openly transgender man to compete in professional boxing, and also the first to win. Trans men are often left out of the spotlight and when they compete, many expect them to fail. Patricio challenges that just by being his strong, talented self. To me, being an ally to the trans community means listening, learning and fighting alongside my trans siblings, because no one is free until we are all free.

 

My Kid
(featured by Jessica Zender, Denver Political Organizer)

One of the trans folks I admire the most is my teenager. Their self-knowledge, sensitivity, and courage inspire me as I see them advocate for themself with humor and temerity. My kid approaches the world with such authenticity and thoughtfulness and makes this world more beautiful just by being themself. Being an ally to trans folks means challenging assumptions people make about gender, educating cis friends and family about trans issues, and making sure that folks around you use the correct names and pronouns, so that the trans folks in your life aren’t always the ones carrying that burden.

 

Indya Moore
(featured by Branden Shafer, Political & Organizing Manager)

I am in love with and in awe of Indya Moore, and for most folks, they will know Indya Moore from the series Pose on FX. Indya has talked about their experience growing up within the LGBTQ community, but more explicitly Indya growing up in isolation, not connected to their identity and support network. Indya is fearless in defending how they grew up, what they did to survive, and that there are no mistakes they would change now. Indya has created spaces to be their authentic self, despite the many spaces that previously had never been opened to them growing up. For all those who remain true to their core values and truths, I honor and admire Indya.