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Today is Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Tucson Transgender Advocacy Groups Merge, Seek Expansion Funding

[TUCSON, AZ] ? Five months after the death of transgender rights activist and TGNet Arizona founder Alexander John Goodrum, TGNet?s Advisory Board announced plans to merge with another local transgender advocacy group, the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA). The newly merged organization is now working to incorporate as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization separate from its fiscal sponsor.

Both organizations were highly successful and rapidly growing grassroots groups under the fiscal sponsorship of Wingspan, Tucson?s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community center [www.wingspanaz.org]. All programs, projects, and publications developed by TGNet Arizona are now under the SAGA umbrella, including the nationally recognized Arizona Transgender Workplace Project (ATWORK), a groundbreaking employer outreach and education program.

?At our annual retreat in January, we had to look at what we were already doing and what we wanted to do and make some big decisions. Our volunteers have reached maximum capacity,? stated Dr. Kevin Maxey, SAGA?s President and Founder. ?We have to take the next step up, even to maintain our current commitments, let alone grow the organization to better serve the many needs of our community.?

Aside from Goodrum?s part-time position as Director of TGNet Arizona, both organizations have been 100% volunteer-driven since their founding. A recent grant from the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has given SAGA the opportunity to fund a part-time staff position to help the organization accomplish its goals. The Board hopes to establish enough financial stability to support a full-time staff within the next year.

Tucson transgender activist C. Michael Woodward has been hired to serve part-time as SAGA?s first Executive Director. He will manage the business functions of the organization and coordinate programming and development efforts. Woodward, a close friend of Goodrum, assumed much of the responsibility for TGNet?s operations following Goodrum?s suicide. A female-to-male transsexual man, Woodward has served on both the TGNet Arizona and SAGA boards and has appeared as a guest speaker at venues all over Tucson, Indianapolis, and other cities. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public and Corporate Communications from Butler University in Indianapolis and works full-time as Corporate/Foundation Relations Coordinator for the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation.

?I?m completely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for SAGA. The trans community in Tucson is blessed with a unique combination of talented and experienced individuals, positive energy, and supportive allies,? Woodward said. ?SAGA and TGNet have both already accomplished so much. We?re making significant differences in the lives of transgendered people. I?m certain that the best is yet to come.?

The Board of Directors voted to retain the SAGA name and acronym as the organization?s legal name. The TGNet Arizona name will remain in use in conjunction with the programs and publications it created. The original groups? web site addresses?sagatucson.org and tgnetarizona.org, respectively?now both lead to the same starting point.

Wingspan?s Executive Director, Kent Burbank, is equally supportive of the growth. He said, "The merger of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance and TGNet Arizona represents an important advancement for the LGBT community in Tucson. By combining forces, the new coalition will provide a more unified voice for transgender rights and equality and will broaden the programs and services available to transgender people in our community. Tucson is incredibly fortunate to have such a strong, vibrant, and professional organization doing this much-needed work."

SAGA offers the following programs and services:

Support Services - SAGA continues to be a support network for transgendered people and their friends, families, and allies. In addition to its monthly organizational meeting, SAGA offers seven different support/social groups in Tucson: 1. Dezert Girlz: Support and social group for all kinds of people who were assigned male gender at birth, but who do not feel that is an accurate description or complete expression of their identity 2. Dezert Boyz: Support and social group for all kinds of people who were assigned female gender at birth, but who do not feel that is an accurate description or complete expression of their identity 3. Dezert Partnerz: Quarterly support group designed for non-transgendered partners of transgendered/transsexual individuals 4. Gender Outlawz: Discussion group for people of all genders and sexual orientations (and anyone else who does not have a box to fit into) who want to discuss issues of gender and society 5. Transformed: Monthly trans-friendly Alcoholics Anonymous meeting 6. "Paint Your Gender Outside the Lines" Youth Group: Monthly safe space for youth (ages 23 and under) to explore gender and discuss any issues they may have about gender?their own or someone else?s 7. Transformations: Bible study group for transgendered people and friends

Advocacy & Education Programs - SAGA?s second primary role is advocating for equal treatment and equal opportunity for all transgendered people through educating the community at large. The organization is positioning itself as the primary resource on transgender issues in Tucson, southern Arizona, and the greater Southwest region through the following efforts: 1. The ongoing TRANSforming Community program works to meet a critical need to educate public and private sector decision makers, students and educators, attorneys and judges, religious leaders, business owners, and legislators. The program has seen rapidly expanding interest from people and groups since its inception in 2000. Under this program, SAGA: 1. Has established an extremely popular and successful Speakers Bureau 2. Produced Arizona?s first-ever full-day informational conference on transgender issues 3. Is developing and distributing informational pamphlets and resource guides 4. Maintains two informational web sites (tgnetarizona.org and sagatucson.org) 5. Moderates a Yahoo! e-group, SAGA-AZ, for communicating news and announcements to our members and allies (groups.yahoo.com/group/saga-az) 6. Is expanding our alliance by sharing resources with affinity organizations 2. Arizona Transgender Workplace (ATWORK) Project provides the information, education, and resources that Tucson-area employers need to create safe and secure working environments for their transgender, transsexual, and gender-variant applicants and employees.

The issues and needs of transgender, transsexual, and gender-variant people have become move visible in recent years as more and more trans-identified people speak out about their experiences of oppression and discrimination.

?Gender identity is the newest civil rights movement. The mainstream population just doesn?t realize how complex the matter of one?s gender can be, especially if it doesn?t fall within society?s expectations of what is male or female,? Woodward remarked. ?Trans folks are losing their jobs, their families, and?far too often?their lives because of ignorance and bigotry. It?s our time to come forward and claim our place at the table.?

Southern Arizona Gender Alliance
c/o Wingspan
300 E. Sixth Street
Tucson, Arizona 85705

www.tgnetarizona.org [email protected]

Southern Arizona Gender Alliance

Kevin Maxey,
President and Founder
[email protected]

Michael Woodward,
Executive Director
[email protected]

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