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LGBTQ+ Stories

Meet the Texas Advocate Empowering Individuals to Embrace Their Authentic Selves

Every year without exception, over two dozen transgender people are killed. Nearly three in four of these homicides are committed with a gun. The statistics make it clear: violence against transgender people is a gun violence issue

Everytown for Gun Safety frequently partners with others in the movement advocating for the protection of LGBTQ+ lives and working to disarm hate. One such organization Everytown has worked with is Equality Texas (EQT). Everytown and EQT have signed on to letters of support speaking out against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. In July 2023, the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action and Equality Texas co-hosted a call titled “Beyond Pride Month: The Effort to Disarm Hate.”

Everytown is committed to elevating voices in the movement speaking out against anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and action. The following is a blog from Rain Garcia, an activist who completed the Equality Texas Equality Leaders program. This leadership development program strives to equip “individuals with the issue education and skills necessary to confidently exercise their individual power in support of LGBTQIA+ rights in Texas.”

As a transgender woman, I understand firsthand the challenges and discrimination faced by the transgender community, as well as the unique struggles within the HIV-affected community. My experiences navigating these issues have fueled my sense of duty to advocate for the rights, well-being, and liberation of historically marginalized communities.

When I hear the word “liberation,” I think of the idea of breaking free from constraints, limitations, and oppressive forces. Liberation represents the empowerment of individuals or groups to pursue their full potential, express themselves authentically, and live a life of freedom and dignity.

Liberation involves:

  • Dismantling systems of oppression,
  • Challenging societal norms that restrict personal growth, and
  • Advocating for justice and equality for all.

Liberation is about reclaiming power, autonomy, and self-determination. When this happens, it creates a world where everyone can thrive and live their truth without fear or discrimination.

My passion for advocacy and liberation drove me to join the Equality Texas (EQT) 2023–2024 Equality Leaders cohort. This was a leadership development program centered on issue education and advocacy skills. Through this program, I gained the confidence and skills to use my voice and power to support LGBTQIA+ rights in Texas.

I have a background in community activism and a strong passion for social justice. These have both been instrumental in shaping my advocacy work with EQT. My journey into this role was driven by a deep commitment to creating a more inclusive society. To me, this looks like creating a society where everyone is respected and valued, regardless of their gender identity or health status. Through EQT, I have found a platform to fight for equality and justice for all individuals.

Being part of EQT has allowed me to amplify the voices of and advocate for marginalized communities, including transgender and HIV-affected populations. I find fulfillment in empowering individuals to embrace their authentic selves. It is important to me to show others that they should not be afraid to express who they are.

In recent years, there has been an increase in anti-trans and anti-queer rhetoric. These include derogatory language, exclusionary behavior, and discriminatory policies. This harmful rhetoric can deeply impact LGBTQIA+ community members. It fosters feelings of isolation, fear, and invalidation. These feelings, in turn, can lead to mental health struggles and a sense of not belonging. Addressing these impacts includes:

  • Actively challenging and combating such harmful rhetoric;
  • Promoting education and empathy; and
  • Creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all individuals to thrive.

In addition to my advocacy for transgender and HIV-impacted communities, I recognize the urgent need to address gun violence in our society. I understand that many victims of gun violence are targeted due to hate and a lack of understanding of differences. I hope to create safer communities and prevent further tragedies caused by ignorance and intolerance. One key way to do this is by advocating for gun violence prevention measures.

We must be empathetic, understanding, and respectful of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity. Living out these values includes:

  • Listening to the lived experiences of transgender individuals;
  • Educating ourselves on challenges transgender people and communities face; and
  • Recognizing that everyone deserves equal rights and dignity. There is such power in acceptance and inclusivity.

These values help to create a more compassionate, harmonious, and liberated society. Building this type of society starts at a local and state level. Through advocacy and collaboration, I am doing my part to make this type of society a reality in Texas.

I want Texas to be a state that embraces diversity, fosters innovation, and prioritizes the well-being of its residents. I am working toward a Texas where all individuals have access to quality education, health care, and economic opportunities—regardless of their background or circumstances.

I hope that Texas becomes a state that values sustainability, conservation, and environmental stewardship, preserving its natural beauty for future generations. I imagine a Texas that leads the way in technology, arts, culture, and social progress, setting an example for the rest of the country and the world. The communities for whom I advocate in Texas are inclusive, supportive, and resilient. People come together to address challenges and celebrate their differences. And I envision a Texas where more people are doing the same.

I am grateful that EQT is partnering with individuals like me to create powerful collaborations that can drive meaningful change. There is strength in unity while fighting for the rights and well-being of historically marginalized communities. By working together, we can amplify our voices, advocate for policy changes, and create a more inclusive and just society for all.

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