Transphobic remarks directed toward a kid in Observatory Hill this summer sparked Pittsburgh City Council to create the first-ever Protect Trans Kids Day. But more needs to be done to make the city safer for trans kids, says Dave West, president of PFLAG Pittsburgh, an LGBTQ support and advocacy group.
“Many trans individuals avoid calling for an ambulance or the police out of fear of how they will be treated. Not so much anything overt, but microaggressions, misunderstandings, embarrassing and inappropriate questions,” says West, who called for more training for first responders.
“More and better training will make a huge difference in how safe and accepted trans youth feel in our city,” adds West.
City Councilman Bobby Wilson, who represents Observatory Hill, sponsored the proclamation, which received unanimous approval to establish Sept. 12 as the first-ever Protect Trans Kids Day in Pittsburgh.
“This is only the first step, but it is a critical step in decreasing the sheer amount of negative commentary that is directed against our trans neighbors,” he says.
“The only way to fight hate speech is with more speech,” says Wilson. “City Council’s proclamation, and the broad coverage it generated in the region, is now a part of the effort to push back against the hate speech that is too often directed against trans youth and adults.”
Wilson says it’s important to show that Pittsburgh won’t support any anti-LGBTQ remarks.
At the proclamation, Wilson was joined by Ace, Esai and Legend, a group of LGBTQ youth who helped compose the statement. Each of them explained how the proclamation made them feel more accepted in Pittsburgh and was a much-needed step toward stopping trans people from being marginalized.
Wilson hopes more people will reach out to Pittsburgh’s Commission on Human Relations to support LGBTQ residents.
“We started by creating this proclamation, which I hope will become an annual tradition at council,” says Wilson. “I am confident that the energy generated by the annual tradition of drafting and updating this proclamation will generate more and more ideas about other robust steps that City Council can take to make Pittsburgh a safer place for trans youth.”
West says the proclamation is a welcome public gesture of support for transgender youth.
“For the city to publicly come out in support of this attacked group of people sends the message that we, as a community, do not support those who spew hate, “says West. “We stand with those trying to live their true lives in spite of the challenges our society has put in place.”