Cassandra Keenan

Vegas trans activists move to merge with Reno group

Filed By Cassandra Keenan | November 23, 2009 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: civil rights, Equality Nevada, Las Vegas, LGBTQ activism, Northern Nevada, Reno, Southern Nevada

Sometimes, history happens right before your very eyes. Saturday seemed like one of those instances. That's when a group of Las Vegas trans activists took some of their first steps toward formally organizing, as well as joining forces with upstate Nevadans.

eqnv.jpgGroup members met for more than three hours at their local LGBTQ center for an activism training session led by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. The session was dubbed Transitioning to a GenderQueer Activist: Becoming Transformative. While some participants were more experienced with such grassroots involvement, others were newbies.

Discussion topics included setting goals regarding political and social change, identifying likely allies and opponents of such efforts and devising tactics to get things done. Participants also brainstormed group organizational structures, and that was the point when it was stated that merging with an existing LGBTQ rights group in upstate Nevada would be wiser than creating one from scratch for downstaters.

More specifically, the group agreed it would be beneficial to integrate with Equality Nevada, a relatively new nonprofit organization based in Reno that provides support and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and genderqueer individuals and their families. Group members said they would work out organizational details at a future meeting.

Equality Nevada had already named a southwest regional director to head up downstate efforts, namely Las Vegas-area activist Jane Heenan, but the fact that an actual group of Southern Nevadans agreed to hop aboard was a new development. Equality Nevada founder Lauren Scott said the united effort would be beneficial.

"I welcome more integration and involvement with Southern Nevada civil rights activists," Scott said. "There is much to do in the north, the south and the rural areas."

In terms of adding protections at the state level, activists have their work cut out for them. Nevada has no laws banning discrimination based on gender identity or expression. That includes the county and city governments, as well.

Overall, Las Vegas activists aim to allocate efforts to foster positive change in the areas of education, health care, employment, law enforcement and public accommodations, among others. They also seek to reach out more to other community members to foster awareness and acceptance, such as through educational outreach efforts and trans-focused events.

Trans Las Vegans have already begun working in this capacity, such as by organizing the community's first trans health fair, as well as having heavy involvement in Southern Nevada's first LGBTQ conference, which was aimed at making schools safer and more inclusive for LGBTQ students.

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I read this at first and thought it said Vegan trans activists move to merge with Reno group, and I laughed a little.