Equality Pennsylvania is taking a big step forward in addressing transgender issues with the hiring of Daye Pope as the agency’s new transgender-rights organizer.
Pope, 23, is originally from Clear Lake, Iowa. She has previous political-organizing experience with the Iowa Democratic Party and Working Families Win and said the new Equality PA post seemed like a perfect fit.
“It was such an amazing opportunity, to work with my own community, and apply my political-organizing skills to a really important struggle here in Pennsylvania,” Pope said.
First on her list of goals is the launch of a grassroots-style transgender listening tour, where Pope will meet with transgender groups and people across the state to figure out what issues trans Pennsylvanians are facing.
“A lot of times the trans community hasn’t been prioritized as much by Pride events and organizations, so it is definitely my first goal to listen to as many trans folks as I can,” she said.
Last week, Pope kicked off the tour by meeting with LGBT youth groups in Lancaster and Harrisburg. Next week, she will head to Pittsburgh.
“I’ll always be adding new dates and connecting with new groups where I can go and listen in the weeks to come,” she said. “Once we figure out what’s important to transgender Pennsylvanians, we can set goals and an agenda.”
What are people saying so far?
“A lot of people really want the nondiscrimination bill passed as soon as possible,” Pope said. “Finding employment and sources of income can be so difficult for transgender people, who often deal with a disproportionate amount of discrimination and stereotyping compared to the rest of the LGBT community.”
Also on the list is the need for a comprehensive safe-schools law.
“The youth groups are telling me that schools aren’t respecting transgender students’ preferred names and pronouns,” Pope noted.
Access to competent and inclusive health care has also stood out as an important issue on Pope’s listening tour.
“Again and again, access to competent and inclusive health care comes up,” she said. “So few trans people can find truly inclusive health care that can meet their needs. Accessing the medical care we need to survive without all the complications is a huge issue.”
Pope said the feedback she receives on her listening tour will be integral to developing the organization’s future policy work.
“Once we have had this conversation across the state, with so many trans people speaking their truth, we’ll have a clear idea of what we need to work on,” Pope said. “Then we will set an agenda.”
Additionally, Pope will continue to offer resources to the transgender community.
“I’ll be there to help get them the tools they need, in conjunction with Equality PA, to help achieve these goals.”