This week following the reading I chose to do my report on two different organizations, one more closely tied to the reading, and another more closely tied to not only myself, but the bay area LGBTQ community as well. When doing research for a relevant cultural aspect related to the text I found numerous organizations and outreach programs that aid the community in a local, direct and much more personal way. This being HIV or other STI testing, counseling and asylum services, among many others. Given my personal interests, and of course my major, I wanted to touch a little more on the litigious aspect of the social injustices the trans community faces.
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is a “social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.” It was established in 2003 by a group of trans-identifying activists who recognized the severe underrepresentation of this community in the federal, state, and county levels of government. They are essentially a trans focused lobbyist group hoping to educate, influence, and inform congressional members during the lawmaking process.
Another great function of the NCTE is to essentially rally the Transgender movement and help the various organizations and communities to better push their agendas and goals within the government. This includes keeping such parties up to date on social justice laws and regulations, changes in government and leadership which directly affect these communities, and keeping everyone on the same page for rallies, protests and other trans related events. Ultimately their mission is to “end discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people.”
What I like about this group is they are head quartered in Washington and their primary objective is to take action and spread awareness on a federal level to invoke change by specifically working with and building relationships with members of congress. It is a great group to get involved in if politics or social activism in Washington DC is something you are passionate about. They offer several different career opportunities, including internships.
The second organization I wanted to shed some light on is one I have a personal connection with (as many in the LGBTQ community in the bay area do) is Magnet. Magnet is a non-profit organization in San Francisco, conveniently located in the heart of the Castro, and supported by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It’s core mission is to “promote the physical, mental, and social well-being of the LGBTQ community.” The most core function this organization offers are health related services. Not only do they provide rapid, and free, HIV testing, they also test for a myriad of STIs, including Hepatitis C—I specifically mention this STI because it requires blood to be drawn and sent to a lab to be tested which takes about a week to do. These tests are all offered free of charge. In addition to STI testing, the center also offers free medication for any curable infections on the spot.
The center is much more than an STI testing center. It plays a huge role in the LGBTQ population in San Francisco. Each time you go in to be tested they partner you with a counselor who walks you through the process and prepares you for your test results. If you test positive for HIV, they have the resources to aid you in living a healthy, productive, and full life with the disease. Aside from this, they have a book club which meets regularly, self defense classes, art exhibits, town hall forums and, in general, help cultivate a community where members, or allies, of this community can come together to support each other, and spread awareness both on issues on sex and social justice programs.