Community Briefs: February 11, 2022

Illustration by Ash Cheshire.

Mazzoni Center gets grant for trans women of color program

In order to execute its new L.I.F.E. (Living in Fullness Everyday) Academy, Mazzoni Center received a $15,000 grant from Philly AIDS Thrift. L.I.F.E. Academy was created for trans women of color who live with HIV. It will expand on Mazzoni’s OUR (On-hand Unique Resources) Way program, a weekly drop-in program that provides services for trans and nonbinary people including art therapy, peer support and health referrals.  

Members of the first cohort of L.I.F.E. Academy will convene monthly for six months to participate in workshops that cover GED and college prep, job readiness skills, self-care and self-empowerment, and coalition building and community organizing skills. 

Tatyana Woodard, community affairs manager for Mazzoni Center, will oversee the execution of the program. 

“I’m happy this Philly AIDS Thrift grant will allow us to provide support to BIPOC Transwomen living with HIV to empower them, and ensure that they know their lives, experiences and voices matter to us as community, to Mazzoni Center, and to Philly AIDS Thrift,” Woodard said in a press release. 

William Way Community Center’s library catalog available online

Community members can now get a hold of William Way LGBT Community Center’s new library catalog online, as the physical John J. Wilcox, Jr. Library remains inaccessible due to building renovations. The library is made up of fiction and nonfiction books and DVDs that capture LGBTQ experiences, insights and lives throughout history, mostly donated by the community.

“I’m so happy that we have finally made this new library catalog a reality,” John Anderies, William Way’s library and archive director, said in a press release. “We have long wanted better control over our bibliographic records as well as a system that can grow as our needs as our community grows. Now we can offer access to the catalog from anywhere in the world and we can stay in better communication with our borrowers.”

To help raise money for library operations, William Way’s library staff hope to be able to hold a “Big Queer Book Sale” down the line. 

To access the library catalog, visit https://www.waygay.org/library

Philly’s Office of LGBT Affairs selecting new members of Mayor’s Commission

The Office of LGBT Affairs put out a call in January for community members to apply to be part of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, a body that advises the mayor on policies that benefit LGBTQ+ communities and supports the work of the LGBT Affairs entity. After announcing their need last month, the Office of LGBT Affairs received almost 100 submissions from people seeking to join the Commission.

After the review committee has gone through applications, they will extend an interview invitation to qualified applicants. Candidates who are selected will be notified, and the new crop of commissioners will be announced in the spring.  

“The Office of LGBT Affairs would like to thank all of those who submitted applications for the Mayor’s Commission,” a Facebook post from the office reads. 

New eligibility rules put Penn swimmer’s season into question

USA Swimming announced in early February that going forward, it will require trans women to maintain a testosterone level under five nanomoles per liter for a minimum of 36 months before competing in its sporting events. The organization also makes it compulsory for trans women to provide evidence that their sex assigned at birth does not give them a competitive advantage.

This new requirement makes the future of competition uncertain for Lia Thomas, a trans woman who swims for the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s team, and who formerly swam for the school’s men’s team. Thomas, who has posted some of the fastest times in the country, has spent more than two years receiving hormone replacement therapy.

In late January, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced that on a sport-by-sport basis, it would take up the policies of national governing bodies to decide eligibility for trans athletes. It remains to be seen whether the NCAA will implement the new requirement by USA Swimming for the current season. 

In early February, The Washington Post reported that 16 members of Penn’s women’s swimming team wrote a letter to university and Ivy League officials requesting that they abstain from legally challenging the NCAA’s policy for trans athletes. Although the team members expressed support of Thomas’s transition in their letter, they conveyed that they believe that she holds an athletic advantage as a trans woman.  

“We also recognize that when it comes to sports competition, that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity,” the letter reads in part. “Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female.”