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South Bend celebrates Transgender Awareness Month

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A South Bend non-profit is bringing awareness and visibility to the transgender community in honor of Transgender Awareness Month.

The City of South Bend declared November as Transgender Awareness Month on Thursday.

Transgender Resource Education and Enrichment Services (TREES Inc.) will host fifteen events throughout November, but Meghan Buell, the founder of TREES Inc., says the months is so much more than events.

Buell says as far as she knows, South Bend is the first community in the country to celebrate Transgender Awareness Month. She says cities across the country celebrate Transgender Remembrance Day on Nov. 20, and some host events in the week leading up to Nov. 20.

Buell says this month is a chance for transgender people to come out and socialize in a safe setting. She says for everyone else, it’s an opportunity to interact and learn more about the trans community.

“Trans people are regular people,” said Buell. “We’re just trying to make it through the day, pay our bills, have a roof over our head, enjoy family, and enjoy our community. These events this month will give you an opportunity to come out and meet some people. When you meet somebody, it humanizes it for them.”

Buell says a month long awareness event like this is needed now more than ever.

“To help the transgender community feel comfortable being able to come out and socialize and be part of the community and be engaged in the community,” said Buell. “When all citizens are able to engage in the community, the community is better off.”

In October, the New York Times reported the Department of Health and Human Services is working to legally define gender as either male or female based on the gender a person is when they are born. That means people who are transgender could no longer legally identify as who they really are.

Buell says this is concerning, but she’s grateful the city is taking steps for the trans community to feel safer.

“What it really shows is that we’re not going [to] get erased,” said Buell. “We’re not going to be eliminated from existence. I know who I am. The community knows who we are, and we are going to stand firm and resist the attempt to eliminate us and make us go invisible.”  

For more information on the events happening this month, click here

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