Olympia's DEI committee sends proposed policy to city council to protect BIPOC, trans- and non-binary people

Olympia’s DEI committee sends proposed policy to city council to protect BIPOC, trans- and non-binary people

By Lorilyn C. Lirio

During the Community Livability and Public Safety meeting held last Thursday, May 26, Olympia’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive (DEI) program manager Tobi Hill-Meyer said a proposed resolution to protect black, indigenous an people of color (BIPOC), transgender and non-binary communities will be submitted to the city council.

The proposed resolution would ask the city to adopt seven policies.

One of them is ensuring that all city’s social service programs are made available to BIPOC, transgender and non-binary people by including them in client demographic collection to identify where they are not adequately served.

“One of the things that we need to do as a city is to identify all of the types of programs that operate this way, that we would need to do that data collection piece, and there is also a need for a consistent data collection process ,” Hill-Meyer said.

The proposed resolution would also ask the city to commit to developing plans with a specific focus on improving safety and community services for these individuals.

The resolution also seeks to include transgender and non-binary, especially black transgender women, to collaborate with city staff to develop a plan of action and create model policies to identify and remove barriers, service gaps, and health and well-being disparities.

“This is the area that we have most work to do,” Hill-Meyer said. She added that the Social Justice and Equity Commission is expected to address an area of ​​focus for transgender and non-binary equity.

Target community

Mayor Cheryl Selby, who is in the meeting as a committee member, noted that the resolution focused oned the BIPOC transgender population that is most at risk for discrimination, abuse and harm.

“Is there something the city can do to elevate trans-women that are not BIPOC? They need protection too,” Selby asked.

Hill-Meyer said the resolution’s goal is to build a system that works for a marginalized group and it does not exclude everyone else.

“The idea is if you look at the people who are in the most need and you build a system that works for them, then it is going to work for everybody,” Hill-Meyer explained. “When it comes to the demographic data collection, training, and the ongoing work that the Social Justice and Equity commission may be doing, and making sure that that trans and non-binary people are included in that, all of that is going to be able to benefit the entire trans and non-binary community.”

“The rest of the community will benefit as well.” Hill-Meyer added..

Background

According to Hill-Meyer, the proposed resolution results from a local study in Thurston County in 2019.

The study stated that BIPOC transgender women and non-binary people in Thurston County found that 89% of its participants experienced housing insecurity; 78% experienced violence and unemployment; 75% experienced employment discrimination; and 55% experienced inadequate medical care and food insecurity.

In a March 2020 local study with transgender women and non-binary people in Thurston County, Hill-Meyer added that 63% of participants made under $2,000 a month; 75% of participants were unemployed between 2018 and 2020; and only 38% of participants had adequate health care.

Hill-Meyer said the resolution also asks the city of Olympia to recognize injustice and harm against BIPOC transgender and non-binary people.

The DEI program manager said 66 black transgender women were murdered in the United States between January 2018 and last Thursday.

According to Hill-Meyer, some organizations keep track of and list everyone who was murdered.

“Invariably, it is almost entirely trans people of color. Understanding the intersectionality of those pieces is really a big part of understanding the harm that we are seeking to address and respond to,” Hill-Meyer said.

Trans Day of Remembrance controversy

In 2019, the city decided to honor the Trans Day of Remembrance by putting up a light display with the colors of the Trans Pride flag projected onto the side of the city hall.

Trans Day of Remembrance, November 20, is an annual event that honors transgender people who were murdered in the past year.

“However, the flatter part of the City Hall building that is compatible for something like that is the side of the building where the police department is,” Hill-Meyer recalled. “There were community complaints that came in addressing the insensitivity of that piece and having concerns that the ‘city was doing something more for a show without actually understanding that would be necessary to make an actual change or take any action.”

Hill-Meyer added that the city responded by asking the community how to make it better.

She said a few of the community members started working to come up with the resolution.

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