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For Immediate Release

Contact

Vicki Estrada,
Host Committee Chair,
2009 Transgender Leadership Summit
(619) 980-0065 
vestrada@estradalandplan.com
Masen Davis,
Executive Director,
Transgender Law Center

(323) 309-0459
 masen@transgenderlawcenter.org

Press Release

California Activists Explore Transgender Civil Rights at San Diego Conference

SAN DIEGO -

More
than 200 transgender community members and allies will meet in San
Diego on March 27, 2009 for the 4th annual Transgender Leadership
Summit. The Summit comes at a critical time for the transgender rights
movement, as the current economic crisis has made transgender people
even more vulnerable to un- and under-employment, lack of health care
access, discrimination, and violence. Even before the most recent
downturn, a 2008 study conducted by the Transgender Law Center found
that transgender Californians were twice as likely to earn wages below
the federal poverty line compared to the state's general population.

"We
are thrilled to host this year's Transgender Leadership Summit in San
Diego," said Host Committee Chair Vicki Estrada. "Given the state of
our economy and with a more hopeful federal administration, it is
critical that transgender people and our allies learn the skills
necessary to ensure that our voices are heard in discussions regarding
local, state and federal reform."

Presented
by Equality California, the Transgender Law Center (TLC), and more than
twenty community-based organizations, the Leadership Summit has become
a major event for identifying and building transgender community
leaders statewide. The Summit provides grassroots activists and their
allies with an unprecedented opportunity to create a unified voice to
advance the movement for transgender equality and to address the
barriers transgender people face in their personal and professional
lives. Attendees will participate in workshops to learn skills they
need to be effective activists, including how to facilitate public
policy change, encourage economic development, educate the media,
conduct budget advocacy, and build local capacity. As part of its
leadership development emphasis, the Summit is planned by a volunteer
committee of community members and activists, with assistance from TLC.
The Astraea Lesbian Fund for Justice generously provided fellowships to
ensure that low-income transgender women activists have the resources
to attend the Summit.

This
year's Summit will feature keynote and plenary speeches by a diverse
group of leading activists including Cecilia Chung (San Francisco Human
Rights Commission), Masen Davis (TLC Executive Director), Sylvia
Guerrero (mother of murdered teen Gwen Araujo), Mara Keisling
(Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality),
Miss Major (Organizing Director of the TGI Justice Project), Shannon
Minter (Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights), and
Susan Stryker (renowned historian, and author of Transgender Histories
).

The
Summit will also offer significant skills-building workshops that
address many of the pivotal issues facing the transgender community
today, including health care and insurance, intergenerational
mentoring, developing and sustaining support groups, advocacy for hate
crime victims, employment rights, leadership development, public
speaking, media work, and international human rights advocacy, among
others. "The Transgender Leadership Summit gave us the foundation
we needed to begin organizing grassroots community activism in our
corner of the state," notes Ben Hudson, Summit volunteer and organizer
of the Sacramento Transgender Coalition.

The
Summit takes off at 7pm Friday night, March 27 th in the PC West
Theater at UC San Diego. Workshops and plenary sessions will take place
all day Saturday and Sunday morning. There will be a special Saturday
night reception at the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Center featuring
performances by Peterson Toscano and Coyote Grace. Registration for the
Summit is still open at http://www.transgenderlawcenter.org/summit2009.html.

###

Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.

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