Gender Justice LA Empowers Transgender Angelenos

Sylvia Rodemeyer READ TIME: 2 MIN.

One could say that Gender Justice LA has been going through its own transition in recent years.

What was formerly the FTM Alliance of Los Angeles launched in 2000 as a grassroots organization dedicated to empowering the area's female-to-male trans community by increasing the visibility and acceptance of FTMs in Southern California. In 2007, recognizing the fulfillment of its original goals, the new name Gender Justice LA was adopted and a new mission implemented. What once was a primarily white FTM led service organization is now a broad multi-racial organization that builds power for all trans people.

"We decided as a board that the scope of work that we did for the community was more inclusive than the name of the organization represented so we changed the name of the organization to Gender Justice LA and rewrote our mission statement to reflect the kind of work we needed to focus on to raise the collective health of our entire community," said Rubin Rodriguez, board president and executive committee chair of GJLA.

Rodriguez became involved with GJLA five years ago amid his own transition. He became a GJLA board member three years ago and supports the organization along with four other board members, three staffers and many volunteers. GJLA's objective is now to strengthen the entire trans community through grassroots community organizing.

GJLA hosted their second annual fundraising gala on Saturday, Aug. 6. Boogie on the Bayou was a dinner and dance with a Mardi Gras theme.

Held at NoLa Soul Kitchen in downtown Los Angeles, GJLA managed to supersede their fundraising goal of $5,000 through the various donations from LGBT Angelenos, organizations and a combination of raffle and door ticket sales.

"I am happy to say we raise around $8,000 that will go directly to keeping our doors open and fueling our academy and campaign work," said Rodriguez.

A portion of the funds raised will go toward GJLA's new LA Transgender Leadership Academy that kicked off earlier this month. The LA Transgender Leadership Academy is a 6-month leadership and skill building program that has about 40 participants. The academy brings experienced trans activists together with those interested in learning the ropes.

"We hope to empower these folks to become leaders in our movement and plug them into our campaign work with Dignity and Justice and Community Clinics Campaign," said Rodriguez of the goals of the academy.

"I had one of the most emotionally exhausting, but emotionally rewarding weekends and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it," added Andrew Giovanni Gomez as he talked about the first session. "I've never before been in a room filled with this many transfolks in my entire life and it was exactly what I needed. It's pretty amazing how complete strangers can build a bond and become so close in just two days."

GJLA will host the Genderqueer and Trans Body-Positive Pol Party and Potluck at the West Hollywood Pool from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13. This event is geared toward people who identify as genderqueer, gender variant, gender non-conforming, and/or trans only in order create a body-positive and affirming space.

Log onto for more information about Gender Justice LA.

by Sylvia Rodemeyer

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