Samson Hampton was awarded the 2018 Empowerment Award from the TGI Network, for his direct action efforts to save healthcare, at the first annual Empowerment Breakfast for Transgender Day of Visibility on Saturday.
“I am a medically complex person that about a year ago was facing losing my insurance that would pay for my life saving medication,” said Hampton, accepting the award. “So I decided to go to Washington DC and participate in direct actions to fight to save health insurance for over ten million Americans. And I got arrested for the first time in my life… That would not be the last time I got arrested. Over the next year I continued to go down [to DC] and participate in direct actions.
“Not only did I protest, yell, get dragged away, (actually rolled away. When I travel I use a wheel chair) but I also sat down and lobbied with politicians and explained to them that if you vote for this bill, you will literally be killing me and other Americans like myself. And some of those politicians still voted for those bills…
“But- we manged to save the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and I continued to go down to DC and fight for protecting the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] which has come under scrutiny,” continued Hampton. “I have recently gotten word that both Senator Whitehouse and Senator Reed have signed onto Senator Duckworth’s bill telling Senator McConnell that they will not support any legislation that will hurt the ADA. Which I think is progress.”
Hampton was also presented with a certificate of special recognition from United States Representative David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island).
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Also receiving an award was Rhode Island State Representative Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence), who received the 2018 Ally Empowerment award for the amazing work she has done in her career. Ajello was, “the driving force behind the groundbreaking legislation in 2001 that added gender identity to our state’s civil rights law.” Ajello was unable to attend, but TGI Board Member Gwendoline Howard said a few words on Ajello’s behalf.
“I met [Ajello] in a little restaurant on Thayer St back around 2000,” said Howard. “I met her because she wanted to know, wanted someone to explain to her, why civil rights for trans people was important and necessary. And getting to sit down with a state representative who would listen, who would be empathetic, who asked the right questions and who would then go on to help make such an amazing event such as passing that bill, possible. You can’t ask for a better ally than that.”
Here Ethan Huckel, TGI Network board member and emcee for the event, explains the importance of the day. He also gave a shout out to those who stayed late into the night at the House Judiciary hearing to advocate for the “Respect in Death” bill.
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