Mayor Kenney started off explaining the significance of the day. “We in Philadelphia will raise this flag together proudly celebrating an integral part of our community.”
The raising of the trans flag happened Thursday to symbolize a city open to acknowledging and recognizing different lifestyles.
Something LGBT office Executive Director Amber Hikes says is unique to Philadelphia.
“We are one of only a handful of cities raising the trans flag at a municipal building. So we are the first. We are also the biggest city that raises the trans flag.”But let's be honest raising a flag surrounded by supporters isn't exactly that difficult. What's hard is getting people to discuss the bigger issues. We discovered that when we spoke to the crowd at the event.
“Do you feel like we’ve made significant progress? As far as trans people go? Ahhh NO…..I think we have small pockets that are getting louder, giving the visibility that we’re going backwards.”
The flag raising symbolized the opening of the trans health conference going on just blocks away but as impressive as the event was, cameras were not allowed because some members of the LGBTQ community still feel targeted. Beth Sluder explained safety has to be the first concern.
“There is a fine line between visibility and safety and our community is always going to err on the side of safety because you can get visibility in the future.”
It was an engaging conference but its problematic that at the same time the city celebrates its tolerance there are people who still worry about being attacked if they’re shown.
Gavin Grimm was there, he’s a transgender teen who’s bathroom access case is now being heard in the supreme court. He lives with the social and political divide but even at 17 is encouraged
“Right now is a very scary time for the trans community but I think just the fact that a case regarding transgender rights made it all the way to the supreme court is evidence of progress.”
And events like today aren’t necessarily about changing minds, Amber Hikes explained they’re about opening communication.
“We have to do more events, community listening sessions to get out to people who don’t have experience with the trans community.”
So today was a celebration of diversity but more important a challenge to us all to pursue better understanding are we ready? For goodness sake.