Issue:  Vol. 45 / No. 27 / 2 July 2015

Letters to the Editor

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Remember heroes of marriage activism

Happiness is a Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court asserts the fundamental right for every gay and lesbian person in every state of this nation to marry and the right to equal standing.

When we celebrate this astounding and extraordinary decision, let us not forget those who risked their lives and their fortunes to bring this issue to court. Those people are heroes.


Mary Richards

Cathedral City, California


Why I heckled Wiener at Trans March

Friday's Trans March brought a wonderful diversity of speakers and performers. However, during a segment in which elected officials spoke, I was dismayed to find out that out District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener was permitted to speak at the Trans March, given his record on the issues, he has not had the transgender community's best interests in mind, and myself, and many other transgender people, were triggered by his presence on stage.

First, there is the issue of his support of gentrification of the Mission district, which hurts me as a transgender woman living and receiving services in the neighborhood. When I came to San Francisco last winter, I was homeless and desperate, until I found the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, one of the only transgender-friendly homeless day centers in San Francisco, which also includes a clinic that prescribes hormones. Wiener supports luxury condos, which lead to displacement, which lead to new tenants pushing out places like the MNRC, and putting the trans community at risk.

His lack of support for affordable/subsidized housing also complicates low-income transgender people's ability to access our one-of-a-kind transgender surgery program. For me and many other trans people, surgery is a necessity, but for surgery, housing with private bathrooms is a necessity, due to the intensive aftercare. Not many single-room-occupancy hotels have private bathrooms, and even with a doctor's note, it is difficult for me to get a unit so I can even proceed with my transition.

He also prioritizes more police on the streets above affordable/subsidized housing, which has always been bad for transgender people, as well as people of color, the homeless, the poor, and the youth (or any combination of such). In fact, Wiener has supported measures to criminalize poverty, including a law that bans sleeping in parks. Often, when LGBT people are homeless, we have to hide for our safety, and closing the parks at night has created an unsafe situation for San Francisco's vulnerable street homeless, including members of the transgender community.

This is why I had to heckle him when he spoke at the Trans March, inspired by Jennicet Gutierrez, an undocumented transgender Latina who heckled President Barack Obama at last week's White House Pride reception to let her people go. Furthermore, when a bill adding more police came up in committee, I confronted Wiener during public comment, telling him that if he is supporting gentrification, incarceration, and other economic injustices, he will never be pro-LGBT rights, no matter how much he wraps himself in a rainbow flag.

The Trans March organizers, including many transgender people of intersectional identities, should have realized how offensive it was to allow someone like Wiener to speak at an event, which many vulnerable and marginalized people are attending, and that I expect a lot better.


Jordan Gwendolyn Davis

San Francisco


Same old issues at SFAF

Your article smacked of deja vu for me ["Yale grad's essay blasts SFAF," June 18]. I worked at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in the early 1990s in the client services department and many of the issues raised in your article were identical to the issues we raised in the 1990s when I was part of a union organizing campaign at the foundation. The response by SFAF today is eerily identical to those responses given by Pat Christen, the SFAF executive director at the time. The response in the 1990s, however, came with a union busting campaign, and ultimately the union we organized to help us address these issues was "busted" by provisions in the contract virtually guaranteeing the demise of our hard won union.

Fast-forward to today, different people and management still do not get it. When the current CEO, Neil Giuliano, states, "We understand that, and we always strive to do a better job," in response to working with a diverse group of people working with a diverse population, then I say, "Do it, then." Apparently the "better job" falls short of working with staff who are serving not only people with AIDS and HIV; but also staff who are working with men and women in our community who have multiple issues aside from AIDS. Bring them to the table, ask them what is wrong, and guarantee their job security if they do tell Giuliano how management is underserving staff. Ultimately, a happier workforce will result in better services for clients.

Thanks for bringing this story to our community; it just breaks my heart.


Criss Romero

San Francisco


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