Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is internationally recognized on November 20th every year. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — remains unsolved.
TDoR serves several purposes: It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender and gender non-conforming people, which is not covered by current media; it is a day to publicly mourn and honor the lives of the members of our community who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our transgender and gender non-conforming children, family members, friends, colleagues, neighbors and selves in the face of public indifference and hatred.
Across the United States, 2021 has seen at least 46 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by violent means. Statistics show this number may not be an accurate reflection of the lives lost this year, as too often these stories go unreported — or misreported. We recognize that the majority of our community members lost this year were Black and Latinx transgender women. This statistic is one our has community faced in years prior and serves as a perpetual reminder of the intersectional realities our trans and gender non-conforming loved ones face in a world that oppresses them across lines of sex, race, and gender.
Anti-transgender violence takes many forms. It looks like murder, physical or verbal harassment, job or housing discrimination and unsafe educational spaces. But it also takes the form of misgendering people, laughing at someone’s pronoun usage, inaccessible gender inclusive restrooms, stopping someone you perceive as transgender from using the facilities they choose, becoming aggressive after finding out that someone you were romantically or sexually pursuing is trans, barring young people from exploring interests that don’t fulfill outdated perceptions of gender roles and a list of many other forms of interpersonal violence that contribute and lead to the discrimination and death of transgender and gender nonconforming people in our society. These, among many others, are some of the very reasons that Pride Tree was founded - in order to work towards a future where no child has to experience these inequities. For this reason, we see TDoR not only as a moment of memorialization, but of solidarity and commitment to honor and #ProtectTransLives.
Simultaneously, as we honor those we have lost, we must use this as an opportunity to whole-heartedly recommit to trans inclusion. We can do this by serving as allies and co-conspirators providing support to our trans community members, their families and friends; encouraging resources and education to those who still lack the understanding necessary to be good allies; and advocating for protections wherever we can.
The Pride Tree and our community partners stand in solidarity with the transgender community. This week and every week, we continue to provide consistent, affirming programs and opportunities for our transgender and gender non-conforming youth and their families. In order to inspire movement towards change, please join us in taking the time to learn about the Human Rights Campaign’s Pledge to End Violence Against Black and Brown Transgender Women.
Director of Events
Bursting Through is the storytelling movement for the queer/straight relationship. It is also a for-profit business founded by a queer man who had a very successful 27-year corporate career. That queer man, me, had firsthand experience of well-intentioned (but overtasked) HR and diversity teams trying to create emotionally safe work environments for everybody. I know HR knows that an emotionally safe work environment creates a more productive and profitable company, and I know it’s time the rest of the company got on board.
Today’s company cultures, driven by millennial leadership, require diversity, equity and inclusion to be taken very seriously and treated as integral parts of those cultures. Why? Because companies must be forces for good to be relevant in business today – and that good must start within the business itself to be real, to be lived and to create emotionally safe environments for the entire workforce. DEI is no longer a box to be checked off. I believe that only companies that truly embrace DEI will succeed and create a road map for future success. Our times demand that DEI is authentic!
My community, like many others, needs to be heard, valued and respected to feel safe at work:
How do we achieve true emotional safety for an entire company workforce? Well, first it has to be a company value, not a box to be checked off. Then the question becomes how do you put that value into action?
My deep belief and lived experience is that the best way is through the path of least resistance. As a species, humans are storytellers. We love to share our stories and we remember stories. When we are heard, we are more likely to listen to others. Stories are our power!
Storytelling is not only important to connect us and develop stronger teams but it is also a key component of any business. When I was an executive, a big part of my job was developing and presenting ideas. I presented often. Essentially a presentation is storytelling to get approval for an idea and a budget.
Storytelling brings people with you on your journey. They become invested and want to be a part of the adventure and help get you to your desired outcome. Most of us want to help others and want to see others succeed, and it’s even better when their success can be our success as well.
The most recognizable example of the power of storytelling in business is TED Talks. The talks show us the importance of communication. It is also important how we communicate, and communication is not the same in all aspects of the professional structure. We are multidimensional, and our communication needs to be as well.
TED Talks teach us because “TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.” In other words, TED Talks believe in diversity and storytelling.
Psychology Today has this to say in “The Psychological Power of Storytelling":
Businesses today have more complexities to manage than ever before. Many of those complexities are completely out of your control, like tariffs, supply chain shortages and pandemics, but there are things that are in your power to control.
You can control your workplace culture. You can ensure you provide a physically and emotionally safe workplace for all employees. You have the power to control how your company treats the people within and influence how they treat one another. You can lead on this topic or you can follow – but you cannot ignore it, or you won’t have a company left to run. DEI is a reality of a successful business. The path of least resistance to authentic DEI is storytelling.
Story sharing + understanding & empathy = emotionally safe workplaces.
***Disclosure: Author of this blog post, Steve Petersen serves on Pride Tree's Board of Directors while simultaneously serving as the Founder of Bursting Through. In addition to his service with Pride Tree and Bursting Through, he is also a volunteer victim advocate at the LGBTQ+ Center of Southern Nevada and a frequent contributor to Las Vegas PRIDE magazine.
On behalf of The Pride Tree, I would like to thank everyone that participated in our “30 days of Pride '' events and activities. While this was our first year, we're already excited for next year's 30 Days of Pride! Some significant highlights this month for me were our LGBTQ+ roundtable with Susie Lee, watching videos from honorees and raising awareness of Pride Tree through building relationships. I also enjoyed growing our social media, and of course, fundraising to meet our long-term goals as an organization.
Our next event is our July Back to School fundraiser. Our goal is to raise $4,800 by August 1, 2021. It cost $400 to send one student to camp. Your donations help us create inclusive and accessible programming for LGBTQ+ youth and allies. Cost for campers covers campground fees, food, insurance, supplies, transportation, etc. While it costs $400 to send one child to Camp Pride Tree, we strive to make all our programming 100% free for our youth participants and are grateful for your support!
Our goal is to raise $35,000 by summer 2022, to have a successful Camp Pride Tree experience for our LGBTQ+ youth and allies. We are asking for support in every way, whether volunteering, donating, following, sharing, and being open to new conversations and ideas. Thank you and have a wonderful holiday!
Director of Fundraising
Pride Month is a month of celebrating and highlighting LGBTQ+ culture and voices. It is also a month to commemorate the struggle for respect and equality while acknowledging the battles for justice that have been won. This month of celebration has always been heavily influenced by activism and commemoration of lives that have been lost within the community.
Pride Month is typically celebrated in June to ensure we remember the events of Stonewall, the gay club raided by police that led to massive unrest in New York. Today, as there is nationwide critique of the policies and laws that continue to oppress a myriad of communities, it is especially important to dissect and address the challenges of every member of the LGBTQ+ community. Progress in our community has not been felt equally by all members. There is still work to be done. More importantly, it is paramount to acknowledge how those in our community who are the most impacted by -isms risk the most in being visible, active, and steadfast. While we are a community, it would be ingenuous to say the consequences of being visible, active, and steadfast are equally distributed. This month as we highlight the progress of the LGBTQ+ movement, we also acknowledge the issues that still need to be tackled in moving towards ensuring a more inclusive future. This translates to learning about and leveraging the privileges one may have, creating truly collaborative spaces, and minding how the definition of allyship changes in response to our dynamic world.
With these thoughts in mind, enjoy the parades. Take part in the celebrations and lively events that make June so colorful. Pride Month is a reminder of how to practice self care and continuing to build on the progress made so far. Pride Tree’s 30 Days of Pride kicks off with our Visit with an Artist event, a fun, interactive program led by local artists. We will also be hosting an online discussion of The Prom, a 2020 musical comedy about Broadway stars who befriend a young teen who wants to go to prom with her girlfriend. Throughout the month you can participate in our Fun Run, a virtual 5k, by signing up and participating or by donating to a runners’ page.
Having a safe and inclusive community brings a togetherness that benefits mental health and increases a sense of belonging. We are actively creating the community we want to see.
Plant your roots, and stay connected with our community: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
-Angelique Burton, Director of Advocacy
As we enter May, we are fast approaching the end of the academic school year. For many students, families, and educators, this year has been one of the most, if not THE most, challenging educational experience of their lifetime. The hardships of the pandemic were felt in classrooms throughout the world, both virtual and in person.
The year 2020 was filled with a tremendous amount of social change and upheaval. Over the course of days, Las Vegas schools, hotels, and businesses closed their doors and entered a period of great uncertainty. As the world adjusted to the “new normal,” the world also began reflecting on the ways in which the “old normal” could be improved.