Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a pledge Monday to support the rights of transgender people as a member of a new coalition formed to raise awareness about transgender issues in California.
"Our tax dollars won't fund intolerance here," Garcetti said at a rally on the City Hall steps announcing the launch of the Transform California coalition.
Transform California was founded by the groups Equality California and the Transgender Law Center to work toward making the state a place where transgender people can feel safe and live free of discrimination.
The text of the pledge that Garcetti signed reads as follows:
We pledge to oppose any efforts to single out transgender or gender non-conforming Californians for discrimination or disrespect. We pledge to learn and share more about the lives of transgender people in California and the issues they face.
Together, we can transform misunderstandings and build a safer, more respectful California for all.
Everyone deserves to live their life as who they are, and that means all of us uniting and taking action to support the dignity of all people; that means rejecting words and actions that diminish or demean transgender and gender non-conforming people.
The rally was the first of six such events the coalition is planning for around the state in the next two months that will call on individuals, businesses and organizations to end violence and discrimination against transgender people.
The coalition plans to share stories from transgender people through social media and on the ground — at churches, schools and community centers — to increase awareness and acceptance of transgender Californians, said Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi told KPCC after the rally.
While acknowledging that issues confronting transgender people have been receiving greater visibility, and that there are now more laws to protect transgender people compared to 20 years ago, Hayashi noted two recent incidents in Los Angeles as indications that more needs to be done to reducing harassment and violence. Earlier this month a transgender teenager was allegedly run over intentionally by the driver of a car in Monterey Park, and a transgender woman, Quartney Yochum, was fatally shot on Skid Row in March.
“I think we’re in this moment in the community where, while there’s been this increase in visibility and while we have more protections, it’s clear that the majority of transgender people are really struggling to survive on a daily basis and facing incredible rates of violence and harassment,” Hayashi said. "So this campaign is really about building up a broad and diverse coalition of Californians to really move the state into a place where we're all making a commitment to build a state that supports transgender people."
The rally and pledge-signing marked the second action taken in a week by Los Angeles city officials to show support for transgender people.
The L.A. City Council, with Garcetti's support, last week approved a ban on non-essential travel to the states of North Carolina and Mississippi until laws in those states discriminating against gay and transgender people are repealed.