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RI Senate marks International Transgender Day of Visibility with resolution and poetry

“Before I start, I would just like to let folks know, who hold a lot of power in Rhode Island that trans empowerment cannot only come in words, but also has to come in action,” said Gaines. Ze then performed two poems that left the members of the Senate literally stunned silent for around fifteen seconds. It was brilliant, confrontational and beautiful.

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Rhode Island State Senator Senator Tiara Mack (Democrat, District 6, Providence) introduced a resolution in the Rhode Island Senate on Tuesday to mark Wednesday, March 31 as the 12th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence) introduced Ethan Huckel, board president of the TGI Network of Rhode Island, to do the invocation that opens the Senate.

“Today we celebrate transgender empowerment,” said Huckel, “but there is work that remains to ensure that all transgender Rhode Islanders are empowered to live freely and speak their identities and experiences openly.”

Senate President Ruggerio then called on Senator Mack to lead the Pledge of Allegiance before Senator Mack introduced community advocate and poet Justice Gaines to deliver two poems in honor of “trans empowerment and the resolution that you all passed” as a Black, transgender woman in “an apocalyptic America.”

“Before I start, I would just like to let folks know, who hold a lot of power in Rhode Island that trans empowerment cannot only come in words, but also has to come in action,” said Gaines. Ze then performed two poems that left the members of the Senate literally stunned silent for around fifteen seconds. It was brilliant, confrontational and beautiful.

The resolution was then read and passed by acclimation.

You can watch the video below to see and hear the entire ceremony. Justice Gaines begins zir poetry at the 3m40s mark.

Here’s the full resolution, passed by acclimation:

WHEREAS, March 31, 2021, marks the 12th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV) celebrating the resilience and success of transgender and gender non- conforming people and raising awareness of transgender rights; and

WHEREAS, Transgender individuals and organizations have made myriad contributions to our state through volunteerism, advocacy, political engagement, military service, and cultural and artistic expression; and


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WHEREAS, Transgender and non-binary people face significant cultural, legal and economic challenges and are often forced to live with the fear of discrimination or violence; and

WHEREAS, Calling attention to issues of systemic biases and individual transphobia and providing protection under federal or state law is necessary in order to ensure basic protections that guarantee human dignity; and

WHEREAS, Education and training are the most effective tools employers can use to facilitate workplace gender transitions and to raise awareness of gender non-conforming designations because by promoting an inclusive workplace where all employees feel respected and safe and one in which they can bring their whole selves, is good business; and

WHEREAS, “Society has a responsibility to stand with a community so often marginalized, to elevate people so often pushed down, to hear and speak to the pain and loss faced by transgender individuals and to work to upend the system that tacitly permits it”; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island hereby commemorates “International Transgender Day of Visibility” on March 31, 2021, and celebrates the myriad contributions transgender persons inculcate and impart to society and the diversity of our state, and urges all Rhode Islanders to prioritize inclusivity and equity for all; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and herby is authorized and directed to transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to the TGI Network of RI.

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

atomicsteve@gmail.com