This op-ed was first published by the San Francisco Examiner.
Supervisor Scott Wiener is running for California State Senate District 11. (Anna Latino/2013 Special to S.F. Examiner)
By PJ Moore on September 27, 2016 1:00 am
I’m supporting Scott Wiener for state Senate for a very simple reason: Scott will use the power of the office to fight for transgender rights statewide. While we still do not enjoy equality and often feel unsafe even in “tolerant” San Francisco, the experience of our trans brothers and sisters in other parts of the state is intolerable. We need Scott, a tenacious fighter, with a long record of delivering for our community, to lead the fight for equality in the state Senate.
I should know. Growing up in the Central Valley — hardly a bastion of tolerance for anyone outside the norm, let alone a trans kid — was not easy. When I came to the Bay Area, I hoped for a more accepting community, which I found. But I also found continued discrimination and inequality.
In 2010, Scott Wiener was elected to the Board of Supervisors, and for the first time in my memory, the trans community had an advocate who heard us and who fought for us. Anyone who is familiar with Scott’s record knows that he has been an outspoken, tireless advocate and fighter on behalf of the transgender community. While some people talk about supporting the trans community, Scott actually does the work to foster real change, to support our community and to bring awareness to our fight for equality. Because of Scott Wiener’s relentless work to require The City to pay for health care, trans people are able to access medically necessary surgeries to better align our bodies with our gender, finally bringing closure to what for many is a long and often painful journey, as it was for me. If Scott had not fought relentlessly to ensure we had the same coverage as other people, most could not afford the surgery.
My friend and transgender leader, Theresa Sparks, said it well and simply: “We would not have universal health care for transgender people in San Francisco without the efforts of Supervisor Wiener.”
But Scott did not stop there, he also secured funding to hire a surgeon at San Francisco General Hospital to perform medically necessary transition procedures for transgender people. Scott’s deserved reputation for tenacity and an unrelenting work ethic transformed what had been administrative excuses and stalled policies into universal health care and real coverage for reassignment surgery.
While much of the fight for trans rights centers on health care and community safety, Scott recognizes that there are transgender kids and families entering a world in which they don’t know where to turn for help with medical needs, mental health, education and advocacy. To ensure the next generation of transgender kids have the support they need to thrive, Scott helped draw attention to and obtained funding for innovative programs at UCSF for transgender and gender-nonconforming adolescents and children.
Scott is a steadfast advocate securing funding in The City budget every year for HIV/AIDS services that directly help trans women of color, and for services and programs including Lyric and Larkin Street Youth Services, which help homeless and struggling LGBT youth. Each year, Scott secures city funding for the Trans March and the Transgender Film Festival, to support and celebrate the community, and to expand awareness of the trans experience to those outside the community in order to increase awareness, foster tolerance, and strengthen the fight for equality.
Today, the Board of Supervisors will vote on Scott’s legislation banning our city from doing business with states adopting anti-LGBT laws including laws that ban trans people from using the restroom conforming to their gender identities.
As a friend and supporter of Scott, I am well aware that his long record of support for the transgender community is personal for him. Growing up, his mother’s cousin transitioned, and he saw firsthand the extreme challenges she faced as a trans woman. Transgender community leaders in San Francisco took Scott under their wings and mentored him, helping elect him to office.
Our community is making great strides toward equality, but we have a long road ahead of us, and the fight continues. If we are serious about real change, not just for the Bay Area trans community but statewide, we need to elect a real champion, with a true record of accomplishments for our community. That champion is Scott Wiener.
PJ Moore is a trans activist and a board member for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.