Category Archives: Office of Diversity & Equity

Overcoming Violence against Trans Community

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Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender activist and columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, to recognize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, Rita’s murder exposed the lack of media coverage and particularly, culturally sensitive and respectful media coverage that takes place when transgender members of our community lose their lives to violent hate crimes. The communal anger and grief that was experienced led to a candlelight vigil that was attended by 250 participants.  Eighteen years later, Transgender Day of Remembrance events occur on a national and international basis on November 20th each year, and often include a candlelight procession or vigil within the program.

On November 16th, 2017, San Mateo County Pride Center held San Mateo County’s second annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event. Transgender Day of Remembrance serves multiple purposes– this is a day for folks to come together and publicly mourn the lives of transgender siblings whose lives have been taken from us in brutal acts of violence and hatred, and a day for us to find strength within each other to mobilize and combat the violence our transgender community disproportionally faces. Transgender Day of Remembrance in San Mateo County included community speakers Alyss Swanson, Lexi Shimmers and Dr. Jei Africa, along with altars commemorating the lives of transgender siblings lost in 2016 and 2017, followed by a silent candlelight procession down El Camino Real to Central Park in San Mateo. During the procession, 25 participants traded their candles for signs that were each hand-painted by community members the afternoon prior with the names and ages of the lives we’ve lost in 2017. You can view the memorial we created for 2017 in the slideshow on this blog.

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In the News: Emergency Preparedness and Transgender Day of Remembrance

Emergency Preparedness

BHRS Mental Health Program Specialist, Betty Ortiz-Gallardo, and Health System Emergency Preparedness Manager, Shruti Dhapodkar, recently sat down with Pen Voice to discuss San Mateo County’s response to the North Bay Wildfires and the county’s own emergency preparedness program. Check out the video above for more.

 

Remembrance and Resilience in the Transgender Community

SMDJ TDOR article

On July 16, The San Mateo County Pride Center  hosted a Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil to honor the 25 people whose lives were taken by anti-transgender violence, in this year alone. Statistics show that transgender people also face higher rates of suicidal ideation, homelessness, substance abuse, isolation, discrimination, job insecurity and violence.

“We’re not just mourning the lives that have been lost, but really coming together and saying, ‘we are a resilient community,'” said ODE director, Jei Africa. Check out this article in The San Mateo Daily Journal for more.

 

Native American Heritage Month: The Power of Visibility

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This November, the Office of Diversity and Equity celebrates Native American Heritage Month (NAHM).

With Thanksgiving, a holiday known to be controversial for Native American history, just around the corner, visibility of Native Americans during this month is particularly important. NAHM recognizes the contributions that native peoples have made for our community. It is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of our local tribes and also educate ourselves about the challenges Native people have faced and currently face, including health disparities.

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What does “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean for the Latino community?

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For the last 5 years the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Latino Collaborative has put together the Annual Latino Health Forum, “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” to provide an opportunity for Latino families to come together to learn strategies for emotional and physical well-being.

But what does the phrase “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean?

When translated literally it means “heal, heal, little frog’s tail.” This expression is commonly used in many Latino communities to offer consolation when one, specifically a child, has fallen or gotten hurt. The phrase continues with “if you don’t heal today, you will heal tomorrow.” At its core this message is meant to offer relentless encouragement, that while we may be suffering today, things will get better tomorrow. 

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Transgender Day of Remembrance: Join Us In Commemorating Trans Lives Lost To Violence

You are invited to join us for Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event that aims to commemorate our transgender community members that have lost their lives due to brutal and unconscionable anti-transgender violence.TransgenderDayRememberance2017_DF-1

This event aims to raise public awareness of violence that transgender people face that often goes underreported or incorrectly reported in the news media, with those who are mentioned often misgendered or “deadnamed,” a term used to describe when a transgender person is referred to the name they were given at birth and no longer use. Transgender Day of Remembrance allows us to come together and publicly mourn our transgender siblings as well as find strength within each other as we mobilize to combat anti-transgender violence.

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November 20 – What’s the T: Being Trans in the Peninsula

 

Trans Pride Flag Waving

Transgender Pride Flag

On November 20th between 6pm – 8pm at the San Mateo County Pride Center please join the San Mateo County LGBTQ+ community at this community dialogue event recognizing the trans community in the Peninsula. 

In collaboration with Peninsula Conflict and Resolution Center and the Pride Initiative, the Pride Center will be holding a dialogue series to discuss transgender experiences and issues right here in the county. This event will be a starting point for local action around the issues that our transgender and gender nonconforming neighbors are facing.

For any questions about this event, contact Fern Farley at Fern.farley@sanmateopride.org. 

Supporting Healthy Families and Building Stronger Communities

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) had the honor of graduating two Health Ambassadors, Maria Valencia Trinidad Hernandez and Alexi Rosales, during the monthly Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery Commission on November 1st.  They each shared with the group their heartfelt personal stories and dedication to help support healthy families and build stronger communities.

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Left to right: David Young (Director of BHRS), Maria Valencia Trinidad Hernandez (HAP graduate), Alexi Rosales (HAP graduate), Jei Africa (Director of ODE)

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) started the Health Ambassador Program (HAP) in 2014.  HAP was first created per the request of parents subsequent to graduating the Parent Project program. After their 12-week course  spent sharing their stories, learning new parenting skills, and supporting one another, the graduates expressed wanting to continue learning about mental illness and staying  connected with each other, their neighbors and community members.

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