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Lancaster Pride celebrates Transgender Day of Visibility

Attendees at Lancaster Pride’s Transgender Day of Visibility event chat and play table games at Southern Market Center on Friday, March 31, 2023. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Jessica Purdy

Jessica Purdy surveyed the dozens of people chatting, snacking and playing games Friday evening in the community room at Southern Market Center.

The event was Lancaster Pride Association’s Trans Day of Visibility event, which brought together more than 60 transgender and other LGBTQ+ individuals and their friends and allies for an evening of fellowship and celebration of their identity.

“So many people have misconceptions about who we are and what our lives are like,” Purdy said. An event like Friday’s “really helps us bridge that gap.”

Purdy, a transgender woman, was a co-founder of Lancaster Pride, though she is no longer on the board, and the founder and CEO of FIC Human Resources Partners, a human resources diversity, equity and inclusion consulting firm. The company’s founding was motivated in large part by her own career struggles following gender transition, Purdy said.

Trans Day of Visibility celebration at Soutern Market Center, Friday, March 31, 2023. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

The Lancaster event was among those marking Trans Day of Visibility worldwide. In a statement, Lancaster Pride said transgender and non-binary individuals “continue to face legislative and executive attacks across the United States,” as well as a higher risk of violence.

Battles over LGBTQ and transgender rights have roiled state houses and school boards across the United States. At least 11 states have banned or restricted gender-affirming medical care for minors, most recently Kentucky, and similar bills are under consideration in at least 20 other states, according to ABC News.

Frances Gibbons, left, speaks at Lancaster Pride’s Trans Day of Visibility event as her child, Kayden, looks on. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Conservatives backing the restrictions contend that families and doctors are moving forward prematurely with life-altering surgical and chemical treatments. Organizations including the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics say the care is evidence-based and appropriate.

In a statement, Lancaster Pride condemned the push for legislation, calling it “dangerous” and “unconscionable.”

Purdy was among several individuals who offered personal testimony Friday. Two others were Frances Gibbons and her child, Kayden.

Kayden, a ninth grader at Ephrata High School, came out as gay in 2019 and as trans in 2021, and uses they/them pronouns. Their parents have been supportive every step of the way, Kayden said: “I’m glad that I told them.”

Micki Dawson

“You love your kids no matter what,” Frances Gibbons said. “It’s their life. You’re just there to support them.”

Another speaker, Micki Dawson, a transgender male and vice president of Lancaster Pride, told One United Lancaster that, growing up, “I didn’t know you could be trans.”

Increasing awareness can help overcome fear and ignorance about trans people, Dawson said: “We’re really just trying to live our day-to-day life like everyone else.”