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"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are."
- Anais Nin

Getting Involved Text Image
(from Jessica M. Xavier)

How Can I Help to Build A Gender-Inclusive Community?

Adapted from The Tactics of It's Time, Maryland!, by Jessica M. Xavier

Working to protect gender diversity is not as risk-filled as it might seem. The approaches below offer a range of possibilities for personal action in increasing levels of commitment. We encourage you to find where your comfort level is and do something. If we all work together as one community and contribute whatever we can, we increase our chances for success greatly. As the poet Audre Lorde said, "Your silence will not protect you."

  1. Help Get the Word Out - Contact us about how you might contribute, and give us feedback on how we're doing. You don't have to be extraverted or public to lend a hand. Let people know we exist, contribute ideas, write essays, etcetera!

    [Definitely let your non-internet friends know about us, send us an email if they would like to receive regular mail announcements]

  2. Talk About It - Don't be afraid to get political! Discuss what ITO is doing at any community meeting. This is not about being stuffy or preachy. This is raising consciousness about gender diversity - part of our civil rights!

    [ITO does have visibility with many organizations in Oregon, as you meet people looking for information, be sure to tell them about us, we may be able to help or make a referral. See our Expressions pages for ideas and what others have shared.]

  3. Help Document Any Oppression - ITO would like to know about acts of discrimination, harassment and violence committed against gender-variant citizens of Oregon. If you know a gender-variant victim personally, ask them to contribute their story to us in a thoroughly anonymous version, with no names of victims or employers. ITO will never out anyone in our community.

    [If you are a victim and would like help in either reporting or finding the next step, ITO is active within the Portland Police Bureau-Sexual Minorities Roundtable and we may be able to help. Only through documenting are we able to begin to get funding and personnel to address issues of bias crimes. See our bias crimes information page.]

  4. Sign an ITO Petition - ITO occasionally brings petitions to meetings requesting signatures. If you agree with what a petition says, sign it using either your chosen name or your legal, given name. You must be a resident of Oregon to sign an ITO petition.
  5. Participate with Local Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Organizations - Show up at their meetings, join their groups and work with them on common goals. This raises our visibility and our credibility as members of the larger sexual minority community, and it builds support for inclusivity (that means us) in broader civil rights agendas.

    [See our community pages of organizations for some of the many groups in Oregon.]

  6. Write A Letter - Use an ITO letter [To be added to this site] as a place to start, or write your own letter to your representatives. You should use your residence address and legal name here, because the representative's staff may check the address to verify you are a constituent. And you can always fax the letter if time is a concern.
  7. Telephone Your Representatives - Call their offices to voice your support or opposition to legislation. If you call after business hours, you can leave a message. Give your legal name under which you are registered to vote, and identify yourself as a constituent. You may be asked for your address to verify that you are a constituent.

    [Note: While email is convenient and many representatives do have email, a paper letter has greater impact. Also, many of the email addresses are set to send a standard reply.]

  8. Visit Your Representatives - It's best to call your representative's office first for an appointment, but you also can do "drop-bys". Try to be flexible with appointments, because legislators are very busy people and often juggle their appointments. Familiarize yourself with the relevant ITO Position Statement, which lays out in brief the argument for a particular bill or issue, or contact us for more information. When you get face time, be brief, be prepared, be logical and be polite. Do not hesitate to ask for their support on needed legislation, and if you feel comfortable, share your own experiences or the experiences of some gender-variant friends of yours. Remember that you are a citizen and like everyone else you have the right to your pursuit of liberty in safety... And always remember that you pay their salaries and they work for you!
  9. Communicate with the Media - Write letters to the editos of local newspapers and magazines, or call a radio station or paper and speak with a reporter. It likely will be necessary to use your legal name, residence and telephone number. (However, note that the President of a local Transgender organization was able to use her chosen name in a letter to the edito of an Oregon newspaper.)
  10. Direct Action - ITO does not disavow direct action by its members, but it is unlikely we will ever be forced to publicly demonstrate. If you really want to participate in direct demonstrations, do it in such a way that educates and works for positive change. Remember, you may be the only person from a gender-variant community that some people have ever met and discussed these issues with. Your actions, and your life, are a living testament to the possibilities of gender freedom!

Keep in mind that although things may be fine for you (or others) now, they may change in the future. As a member of a sexual minority group, you cannot take your rights for granted. Political change is longitudinal in nature and progress incremental. Consequently, we must work today for a better future tomorrow. Again, remember the words of Audre Lorde - "your silence will not protect you."

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