Canby Transgender Alliance Urges City Leaders to Foster Sensitivity, Inclusion

Several representatives of the Canby Transgender Alliance appeared before the mayor and city council last week to recognize International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Held on Nov. 20, which was also the date of the city council meeting, it is a day to memorialize those who have been murdered because of their gender identity and to draw attention to continued violence against transgender people.

One member of the group, Sarah Rodriguez, read a letter from another member, explaining that a number of transgender residents in the Canby community do not feel safe publicly identifying themselves or speaking out.

The Canby Transgender Alliance formed earlier this year, in the wake of a failed proclamation that had been brought to the city recognizing Transgender Day of Visibility, which is observed in March.

Mayor Brian Hodson declined to read the proclamation. And, with the help of several city councilors he asked to study the process and make recommendations, he later announced new policies concerning proclamations, including that he would no longer consider any that recognize groups based on race, sex, gender, age, religion, nation of origin or sexual orientation.

Amira Stanley, another Alliance member, spoke to Mayor Hodson directly, saying they had met on several occasions, and that he is an “awesome person.” But, she feels his proclamation policy has room for improvement.

Responding later in the meeting, Mayor Hodson expressed his sincere appreciation to each of the four members who spoke, and their continued efforts to promote honest and constructive dialogue in the Canby community.

Another councilor, Shawn Varwig, also addressed the commenters, expressing his dismay that anyone would feel unsafe at City Hall, and going so far as to apologize for anything he may have ever done to make someone feel that way.

“It makes me really sad that people are afraid to come here,” he said. “Whether we agree or not, this should never be a place where people are scared to come.”

He and other members of the council said they would be interested in revisiting and reaffirming the city’s Statement for a Safe Community, which “endorse a culture of appreciation for the inherent value for all persons within the community regardless of race, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic.”

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