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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Transgender Organizing Proceeds at Rapid Pace

New Dallas Transgender Alliance Swells to 45 Members, Leader Reports

[DALLAS, TX] - The Dallas Transgender Alliance's membership has grown to 45 in its first month, said Tylana Marie Coop, the new group's president. The advocacy group has appointed nine members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to its board of directors and established a regular meeting schedule. Members also meet online through the group's Web site.

"I'm really enthusiastic about the interest in this new organization," Coop said. "I think it has a large potential to make a very positive impact for transgenders in the community." The board members are organization founder Coop, Joan Waddill, Joe Orlando Vasques, Pamela Curry, Stephanie Diane Vomact, Tisha Dupree, Carol Kirk, Lilith Ann Calbridge and Jo Leverette.

Coop said the board is diverse, representing all facets of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. It is a temporary board established for the remainder of the year, Coop said. Elections will be held at year's end so Alliance members can name a permanent board, she said.

The Alliance will meet the second Wednesday of each month at the Dallas Oak Lawn Library Auditorium from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The first meeting will be July 17.

Meeting agendas will be decided by the membership, Coop said. The first meeting will focus on setting up non-profit status, seeking community sponsors, fundraising and local advocacy issues, she said. The Alliance's mission is transgender education and advocacy, but its work will extend to helping end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, said Coop, the group's president. "We will be peacefully working to help end discrimination...," Coop said. "The group welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual transgenders, as well as anyone else from the community, and those who support us, to become members."

Transgenders identify sexually in diverse categories, Coop said. For instance a male to female transgender may have been heterosexual before transition, so they may prefer to identify as a lesbian after reassignment sur-gery, she said.

Much of the group's work will focus on educating the public about transgender issues, which includes an alarming incidence of HIV infections and AIDS cases, Coop said.

"There is much work needed in this area," she said. A pamphlet distributed by the Alliance reports that the HIV rate for transgenders is about 30 percent. The statistics are attributed to the Transgender AIDS Initiative League.

"The truth is shocking," Coop said. "We need more outreach to the HIV- plus transgender community.

About 37 percent of the transgender community identifies as heterosexual, 27 percent are Caucasian, 19 percent are African American and 19 percent are Latino, according to the literature. The suicide rate among transgenders is 35 percent, 35 percent of the community's members live in substandard housing and 37 percent report employment or other discrimination, the literature says.

The Alliance is the second transgender organization to form in Dallas, and many of its members also belong to Purple Light Transgender Support Services. Coop is the outgoing president of Purple Light.

The Alliance was formed to undertake advocacy issues to prevent any interference with Purple Light's support services, Coop said. Purple Light's mission is to offer the transgender community and their partners a safe, educational and supportive environment. The group primarily consists of transexuals in various stages of transition. Topics at meetings include transitioning on the job, sexual reassignment surgery, employment discrimination, coming out to family and friends, hormonal and psychological therapy, identity issues, gender expression and relationships.

Purple Light's support group meets the first, third and fourth Sunday of each month at the John Thomas Gay and Lesbian Community Center at 7 p.m.

The group also sponsors a social outing the second Sunday of the month at various locations. Past activities have included a Valentine's Day Party and a bowling night. For details see www.goldleopard.com/purple.

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