GEARing up for trans rights

By David Webb Staff Writer

Resource center launches advocacy program for transgender community



Marla Parker, left, Josh Becker and Mickie Garrison are three of the four cofounders of GEAR. Cofounder Jessica Davis is not pictured.

The Resource Center of Dallas has launched an education and advocacy program for the transgender community.

The program, Gender Education Advocacy and Resources, will provide support for the transgender community and work to promote better understanding of transgender issues, said Micki Garrison, a cofounder of the group.

“It will provide members of the transgender community with the tools they need to be empowered and to take care of their own destinies,” said Garrison, a transgender woman who is the supervisor of the AIDS Resource Center’s Food Pantry.

Garrison said GEAR is built on a different model than the traditional support group because it is focused on providing programs to help transgender people in their daily lives.

The cofounders of the group are Garrison, Marla Parker, Josh Becker and Jessica Davis. The idea for the program developed from a conversation around a coffee table in one of the cofounders’ homes, Becker said.

One of the biggest issues facing transgender people is unemployment, Garrison said. The program will provide help with resume writing, interviewing skills, job placement and image consultation to help job applicants look their best for interviews, she said.

The formation of a transgender professional association is also planned, Garrison said.

Interest in the program is strong, Garrison said. About 20 members of the transgender community attended a mixer sponsored by the program at Ciudad’s last week, she said.

“So far, we’ve had a great reception from the transgender community,” Garrison said.

Garrison said resource center leaders began developing the program last summer as part of a new mission and goals statement they developed. The leaders wanted to make the resource center more inclusive of the whole GLBT community, she said.

Transgender activists who have complained previously about a lack of resources available to their community should be pleased with the progress, Garrison said.

“We’re giving them a lot of attention now,” Garrison said.

Parker said there is a tremendous need for the services the program will provide to transgender people and for its outreach to the public.

“There is a lot of discrimination and misunderstanding,” Parker said.

Some leaders in the past have left the public with bad impressions of transgender society, Parker said.

“I think we’ve done a bad job with public relations,” Parker said. “We will achieve acceptance by getting out, living decent lives and being good neighbors, friends and employees,” Parker said.

Becker said the program is different than previous groups because it brings transgender men and women together to work on common goals. Most transgender groups in the past were composed only of women, he said.

For information e-mail gear@rcdallas.org.
E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 31, 2006.

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