In the state of the city address on Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges brought attention to issues facing the city’s transgender community and called on all citizens of the city to practice “love and celebration” in interactions with their transgender neighbors. She also called for the city to continue to adopt policies that make the city safer for transgender residents and visitors.
Celebrating the courage of transgender individuals and the community was one of six themes in the mayor’s speech. Also included was increased mentoring of high school students, lowering city waste, addressing the city’s role in climate change, and making city-business interactions simpler. Hodges also included increasing police-community engagement.
Here are Hodges remarks about moving the city forward on transgender inclusion:
Recently, a person very dear to me let me know she was a transgender woman. My first response? Congratulations, and how great! The ability to know who she is and live as herself is a wonderful thing and worthy of celebration.
Now all of us must work together to make that truth real everywhere she goes.
Last year saw history made in our state and in the city of Minneapolis. I was so proud of the Minnesota state high school league when they voted overwhelmingly in December to make sure transgender athletes could play and participate as their lived gender. We at the city convened the first Transgender Issues Work Group, tasked with examining and recommending policy for the City enterprise and the city as a whole. They also hosted the city’s first-ever Trans Summit, bringing together community members, community organizations, City departments, and overall community resources to take the next steps toward community-generated policy change. I was proud to be part of it. Much love and credit to Andrea Jenkins, whose dedication and activism made it possible; I wish her well in her new role as the new and first ever oral historian for the Transgender Project at the University of Minnesota Libraries.
The 2015 horizon is bright as the next generation of city policy begins to take shape. This work is needed. Transgender people experience some of the worst levels of violent crime, hate crime, discrimination in the workplace and in public, stereotypes, and ignorance of any group in this country or in the world. Here in Minnesota, 77% of transgender people report experiencing harassment on the job. 27% of transgender kids in school report being assaulted. Most damning, 43% of the trans people surveyed reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population.
What can any one of us do in the face of this data? In our interactions with transgender people — frankly, as in our interactions with anyone — we must start with love and celebration. We must start with the knowledge that being who you are in this world is to be celebrated. We must follow that with the commitment to making each one of us safe as we walk through the world as ourselves. And we must follow that with policies that support it.
Everyone in our city can learn from the courage that our transgender friends display every day. To my transgender friends, I want to thank you for your investment in Minneapolis, our community, and our people. The best way I can thank you is by persisting in my commitment to making sure that all of us know that all of us need to be in the picture of this city for us to succeed, including and especially you.
Because we can’t do this without you, Minneapolis. Everyone must be in this picture or we will not be One Minneapolis. Too often when we talk about equity or economic justice, we white people do not see ourselves in the picture. We feel like it’s all well and good for other people to do better, but not at our expense and it won’t benefit us.
Hodge’s full speech can be read at the mayor’s office website.
Video of the speech is available courtesy of KSTP: