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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Trans Day of Joy Celebrated in South Kingston

Support for transgender equality in the state.

By Steve Ahlquist for UpRiseRI

Rhode Island’s transgender community members, families, and allies gathered at the Contemporary Theater Amphitheater in South Kingston on Saturday to celebrate a “Trans Day of Joy.” The outdoor event, organized by LGBTQ Action RI, featured speakers, information about local organizations, available resources for individuals and families, and actions to take in support of transgender equality in the state.

“Trans Day of Joy is not just a gathering, a rally, or a response to the ongoing spread of misinformation and disinformation around ‘gender ideology in schools’ – it’s about recognizing what’s achievable when we unite across differences and transform what’s possible for our communities,” said organizers ahead of the event. “The lives of trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse people are so much more than the ongoing headlines of tragedy.

“We’ve all seen the increase in anti-LGBTQ, anti-transgender attacks. But that’s not who Rhode Islanders are. We’re here because Rhode Island has a wonderful, dynamic, engaged community of transgender people and allies, and we want to celebrate that.”

The event began the annual Transgender Awareness Week, a week each year designated to uplifting resilience, love and acceptance among, and in support of, transgender community members. The speaking event was emceed by V Tran.

“Trans Day of Joy is an opportunity to celebrate the transgender community and to show the community, especially young people, that we see them, we care about them and that there are a whole lot of people here to support them,” said Jayeson Watts, LICSW, Director of Trans Heath at Thundermist Health Center. 

“Like all young people, transgender young people flourish when they are accepted by the people who love them, supported by the communities in which they live and protected by the laws in their state. This event will uplift Rhode Island’s strong, thriving and visible transgender community, and will let people who are not able to be visible know they are not alone.”

“Young people learn best when their identities are affirmed,” said Aarav Sundaresh, Director of Equity & Belonging, Providence Public School Department. 

“Schools have a responsibility to ensure each student feels safe to be who they are, and to provide an education that is responsive to students’ identities– including their gender, racial and ethnic identities. 

"Transgender students are no exception to this. Educators know that first and foremost, students’ basic needs regarding safety and belonging must be met in order for them to engage with their academic content. And when K-12 school classroom materials are inclusive of diverse identities, including LGBTQ identities, students can engage meaningfully because we’ve fostered a sense of belonging. 

"I’m proud of Rhode Island schools already engaging in this work, and am equally proud to support efforts like the Trans Day of Joy that celebrate inclusivity.”

Other speakers include: include

Rhode Island has been on the forefront of civil rights for transgender people for more than 20 years. In 2001, Rhode Island became the second state in the United States to protect transgender people from discrimination. 

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that 1,200 people between the ages of 13-17, and 6,900 people over the age 13 in Rhode Island identify as transgender.