Andersonville Chamber of Commerce ( ACC ), Praxis Group and Upswing Advocates hosted "Being a Stronger Ally: Trans and GNC Affirming Business Workshop," Feb. 6 at Reza's Restaurant in Andersonville. The event was also held Feb. 7 and about 90 people attended across both days.
Upswing Advocates Founder and Research and Programs Director Dr. August Stockwell, Praxis Group Co-Founder and Training and Curriculum Director Kate Harrington-Rosen and Praxis Group Co-Founder and Operations and Outreach Director Jes Scheinpflug co-facilitated the workshop focused on inclusive terminology, respectful customer service and ways to support local businesses in becoming trans and gender-nonconforming establishments. They also explained what businesses do to help clients with these topics.
Ahead of the workshop, ACC Executive Director Sara Dinges spoke about her experiences hearing from trans and gender non-conforming people in Andersonville who shared their stories of living and working within the neighborhood. Dinges explained that they told her instances of them being misgendered and/or not having comfortable bathroom options. She said that the chamber had to do better and they have done this by creating a taskforce and channeling resources into programming like this workshop. The goal of these events, Dinges said, is to "create a truly safe and inclusive Andersonville."
Harrington-Rosen explained how the workshop would proceed ahead of Scheinpflug's ( who uses they/them pronouns ) primer on the differences between cultural competency and cultural humility. They said the goal of this workshop was for everyone to leave with commitment to have cultural humility so they will commit to their ongoing education to create affirming enviornments.
Stockwell ( who uses they/them pronouns ) led everyone in a small group activity focused on practicing how to use one's pronoun.
Scheinpflug spoke about LGBTQ terminology while Harrington-Rosen and Stockwell broke down the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity.
Harrington-Rosen spoke about the legal protections the LGBTQ community has locally and state-wide which includes employment non-discrimination, equal access to real estate/credit and public accommodations.
Scheinpflug explained that among transgender and gender non-conforming people about one-third of them experience homelessness at one or more times in their lives, 31 percent are mistreated in a place of public accommodation and about 40 percent attempt suicide at least once which is nine times the rate of the rest of U.S. population.
Guest speaker Vita E. Cleveland ( who uses they/them pronouns ) spoke about their experiences since moving to Chicago in 2016 including living in Andersonville and working as a street performer outside of the Jewel. They explained that the entire time they have lived in Andersonville they have never felt safe. Cleveland said they have felt affirmed and appreciated by individuals but not the wider society. They explained that this is due to their status as a Black trans woman.
Cleveland said Andersonville needs to address instances of transphobia and transmisogyny directed at people of color. They explained that their intersection identities of Blackness and transness make it clear racism needs to be addressed in the neighborhood. At times, Cleveland explained, they have had to double-back to their apartment because police officers were following them when they did nothing illegal. Cleveland said that everyone in the room, especially those who run businesses, have to do better when it comes to their interactions with trans and gender non-conforming peoplecustomers and employees alike.
Jameson Loves Danger Co-Owner J Horne and ACC Community and Events Manager Laura Austin are the ACC trans-affirming business task force co-chairs and facilitated this event.
See www.andersonville.org/, www.upswingadvocates.org/ and praxischi.com/ .