Distinguished Service Award for Jessica Xavier
Presented by GLAA President Bob SummersgillGLAA 29th Anniversary Reception
Doyle Washington Hotel
Thursday, April 27, 2000
Jessica took on a daunting task: the organization and politicization of Transgender people here and across the country. Transgender people are among the least understood people in our community. Because transgender people cross the barrier between men and woman, they violate the strongest of our cultural norms. This is disturbs most people on a visceral level, largely because they have never examined their own ideas about sex and gender. Discrimination and violence against Transgender people are disturbingly common. Just last Sunday a Transgender woman was beaten to death in DC.
Transgender people, much like gay and lesbian people, must come out to themselves and overcome the cultural ideal that they were raised with. But transgender people, unlike gays and lesbians don't have many visible role models. No actors, TV shows, parades or politicians. Only the rare movie includes a transgender person, and usually only as a joke. Transgender people rarely get support from the gay and lesbian community, the one group of people that should be most receptive has often times been hostile.
Jessica not only over came the various obstacles placed in her way, but she has helped countless others, brought them together for mutual support and common purpose. She taught transgender people to come out boldly and pride for who they are and demand basic rights that we expect.
She is the former director and co-founder of It's Time, America! the first national transgender political organization, with 25 member organizations at the state and local levels.
She currently is serving as a Board Member of Gender Education and Advocacy, the new national non-profit transgender education organization that seeks to improve the health and well being of all gender variant people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Locally, she is the founder of Transgender Nation - Washington, which has focused its efforts on fighting transphobia in the Washington media and in the DC Metropolitan Police and Fire Departments.
She also helped to co-found Transgender Health Empowerment, formerly Transgenders Against Discrimination and Defamation, a support and educational group for transgendered residents of the District.
- She is a past employee of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
(GLAAD) and Gay men and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV).
- Most recently, she completed work on the Washington Transgender Needs
Assessment Survey, the second largest of its kind in the US.
- As a writer, her columns have appeared in the Philadelphia Gay News, the
Southern Voice and the Washington Blade.
- In 1999 she released her first solo CD, entitled Changeling, and currently is performing with her new band, Femme Messiah. She will be performing a song from the CD later on tonight.
It is my proud honor to present Jessica Xavier GLAA's Distinguished Service Award.