Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ms Marshal

Ready for Pride! 
Yesterday was the Pride Portland parade and I had the unique privilege and honor serve as co-parade marshal. I was also invited to make a some remarks from the festival stage to a crowd of a few thousand folks. Here are my planned remarks. I probably went off script a few times :)
Hello Pride Portland!

My name’s Gia, What’s yours?

It’s great to meet you! Don't you all look fabulous today!

It is a certainly an honor to be one of this year’s parade marshals, especially alongside such a luminary as Doug Kimmel.  To be honest, I was very surprised when Micheal Snell from the Pride Portland committee called to ask If I’d be a marshal, as I’m very new to this work and know so many people who are far more worthy than myself.

You see, it was just five years ago that I attended and marched in my very first pride, and yes, it was right here in Portland.  At the time, I wasn’t really out. I wasn’t out to my friends, colleagues, students, or my family, but I marched anyway; it was time. And while I was scared and hesitant about being seen as a transgender woman by the public, I felt safe with my new friends from MaineTransNet.
MaineTransNet prepares for Pride!
As we walked down Congress St. and the cheers grew louder and louder, my smile and confidence did too. I had never felt so affirmed in my entire life. I was free. Six months later, I began my transition, doing so in full public view, as a high school teacher in southern Maine, in the very town I live in. Over a matter of a few months, I went from Mr. Drew to Ms Drew. Imagine that!

Unfortunately, a year later my position was eliminated, and my life’s dream of teaching openly and authentically came to an abrupt end.  I tried to move forward, but was unable to find work and became unemployed for nearly two years. An all too common side affect of being OUT as a transgender person. To stay sane and active, I started volunteering with GLSEN, MaineTransNet, and EqualityMaine.  There, I found a new
That's me! Pride Portland Parade Marshal 2015
family, a community, and a sense of purpose. It saved my life.  And guess what? Just last year, I was hired as program coordinator at EqualityMaine and named president of the board of directors of MaineTransNet.  And while I’m back on my feet, I wouldn’t be here today without the incredible support from the people I work with, my friends, a supportive family, my former partner, and of course, all the courageous people who paved the way, the true heroes of our movement.

Trans Youth speak the truth!
Before I go, I want to recognize that as I stand here, transgender people around the world and right here in Maine, experience harassment, violence, and discrimination on a daily basis. Far too many of us feel alone and think about ending our lives because we see no hope or future. That needs to change.  And most urgently, the violence against Trans women of color needs to stop! 
So I’m calling on you Portland to make a difference. I need you to standup to injustice, transphobia, racism, sexism, ablism, and any other form of discrimination you witness. You have the power to make a difference, and together we can create the change that is so desperately needed.

And if anyone asks why… tell them Gia sent you.

Thank you everyone and Happy Pride Portland!!!!!