OFFICIAL STATEMENT: Utah Pride Center Calls for Statewide Transgender Education

The Utah Pride Center and TransAction, its transgender advocacy program, released a press release this morning concerning the incident at the Utah Drivers License Division where a transgender woman was mocked, laughed at, and forced to scrub off her makeup before she was allowed to get her photo taken to renew her drivers license.

From Valerie Larabee, executive director:
“We learned of this incident on Thursday, March 24, when the bystander called and asked for advice because she didn’t feel the DMV office staff had been responsive to her initial complaint, … When told by an ally that one of our transgender community members was witnessed being ‘humiliated’ we encouraged the bystander to document her account of the incident and continue to pursue all DLD complaint channels to report the incident and gain additional understanding around what is expected from Utah DLD offices when working with the public, which includes transgender Utahns.”
Take note: Encouraged the bystander to document and stand up for the victim in order to actually help make the DLD a safer environment for transgender individuals. Additionally:
“Too often the voices of transgender people and those who support transgender people are silenced and ignored. We encourage community members and allies who observe or face acts of injustice to use the reporting mechanisms that exist and demand accountability,” Larabee continued. “We believe that systems should be held accountable for addressing the complaints of its users and that all feedback, whether good or bad, is useful. Every person deserves dignity and respect.”
Beautifully put.

This press release further points out that this is not the first time that transgender individuals have sought support because they felt mistreated at the Utah Drivers License Division. Fortunately, in this particular case and despite the many attempts to silence and discredit the horrified witness - she spoke out and her persistence made the issue impossible to ignore. This helped the victim step forward, knowing she’s not alone. Further, this issue has now garnered a great deal of attention and numerous transgender individuals and our allies have written to and called the DLD on behalf of those who have been victimized by this policy.

This statement also doesn’t imply that the victim had this coming, in a sense, because the gender marker on her ID is “M”. This issue is much broader than her ability to change her gender, which has been brought up repeatedly by the news, TEA, and others even though it isn’t, in the slightest, relevant to what took place here. The victim was not there to change her gender marker and shouldn’t be forced to - she was there to, simply, renew her license and, in turn, became the target of a discriminatory policy that is selectively enforced.

As this release so eloquently states,
“The board and staff of the Utah Pride Center offer resources and education for the broader Utah community on ways to create safe and affirming spaces for members of Utah’s transgender community. Working in collaboration with community partners, this education makes clear that transphobic language, actions, and policies have a significant impact on transgender people and their families.
(emphasis added)

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