Central PA's LGBT News Source

Visibility critical in Lehigh Valley

Transgender Renaissance sees need for peer support and guidance


“We’ve been around for more than 20 years,” Corinne Goodwin, 58, says about Lehigh Valley Transgender Renaissance.

Originally LVTR was affiliated with the national group Renaissance Transgender Association. “Now we’re an independent group affiliated with Allentown’s Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center,” Goodwin says.

In the past two years, “we’ve undertaken significant efforts to evolve beyond being a support group that meets monthly,” Goodwin explains, describing a changing landscape. The group has been involved in starting support groups for trans-masculine individuals and parents of transgender people. They collaborate on Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremonies.

“We have monthly dinners, movie night, holiday and summer gatherings,” Goodwin says. They’re ‘organic,’ often a lost feature in organizations as assimilation has spawned boards, budgets, bylaws, bios and formalities clearly not organic but institutional. Regular second Saturday of each month meetings draw about 30 people.

All programs and activities are offered free of charge (excluding dinner costs). There is a suggested donation of $5 for each monthly meeting. Food is provided at monthly meetings. “We’ve created a great setting for peer support and guidance,” Goodwin says.

LVTR is visible

“We do educational programs in the community, table top events, have a web site with twice monthly information emails,” Goodwin says. They also provide two scholarships to the annual Keystone Conference. Goodwin writes a quarterly column for Lehigh Valley Gay Journal.

Has the current political environment affected Goodwin?

Expressing hate has been emboldened. “Locally we've had incidents of high school students chanting anti-gay slogans in hallways,” She notes. “If President Trump has his way we’ll have a trans military ban. It just seems easier for the haters to hate and to be open about it all,” she says with dismay in her voice.

Transgender people of color are facing more challenges, Goodwin says. So far in 2017, there have been 20 reported killings of transgender individuals, many people of color. To address the imbalance, LVTR supports Project Silk for younger people of color with Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. “We want the youth of color to know we’re here and we understand.”

Goodwin shares that her experience has shown her that there are transgender people in every phase of the journey.

“In our region, we have truly closeted trans people not out now, perhaps may never come out. We have individuals who are on the journey of transitioning. And we have individuals who have successfully transitioned. We have members that fall into all of these categories,” Goodwin says.

Visibility pays off

“We have about 50 active members attending meetings. And another 170 people on our mailing list,” Goodwin says. In the last year, the web site has had over 2,600 unique visitors generating over 6,000 page views.

“We have web site visitors from all 50 states and 31 countries. Over half of our visitors are from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area,” she explains. The most popular pages are Resources and Spouses/Significant Others.

What's the single, most important transgender issue to Goodwin?

“Education and outreach to the larger community is paramount. We need to make allies to advocate and fight for us,” she says. Reaching out will assist with issues like anti-trans violence, healthcare, the workplace, jobs conditions, Goodwin notes.

“Educating healthcare providers that trans people should be addressed as the gender they identify with,” Goodwin stresses. How assisted care facilities treat trans people is also important, she points out.

What's the single, most important non-transgender or non-lgb issue to Goodwin?

“I really want to creating meaningful dialogue across social and political aisles,” she says. “There’s a time and place for shouting and assertiveness, it should be rare. If we have respectful relationships, we can advocate more effectively for ourselves,” she says.

Goodwin says of her political transition, “Until 2000, I voted Republican. But I believe the Republican Party has moved away from the Center.” She wants the government to stay out of her way. “I want adequate police, defense, solid infrastructure, and a safety net. But politicians need to stay out of our bedrooms. They need to stop enforcing their own personal brand of morality on everyone around them.” Although Goodwin is political the organization is not.

She also opines that there is a difference between equality of opportunity and equity of outcome.

“Everyone, and I mean everyone, deserves the opportunity to achieve what makes them happy. That does not mean, or guarantee, that everyone will have the same outcome. That’s how life works and is why we need to work hard and stand up for ourselves. That is what LV Rennaisance is all about - supporting trans people in their goals to lead genuine and productive lives. Goodwin says.