On October 20th, 2017, the Pride Center of Vermont was invaded by a right-wing personality with a large following. They used hidden cameras to record our Trans Town Hall event, “What the Healthcare?”. As you have probably guessed, we talked about healthcare. This video, which was recorded without our permission, was used to create a violent, anti-trans and gender non-conforming propaganda video. It spins a false narrative, making it seem like the focus of our event was to deceive and exploit the healthcare system, when in reality, we just wanted to help each other figure out how to survive and thrive.
Seven Days is currently running a story that focuses on the events of that evening in a way we at the Pride Center feel further endangers those who are most affected by this invasion in the first place, exposing us even more than we already have been by naming this right-wing personality. We don’t want to give this person further exposure, or help said person get any more views on this video of us being exploited. We are purposely not naming the perpetrator and encourage allies and members of our community to do the same in order to minimize our exposure. We would prefer that if you do share news regarding this event, you share our story, an account from those who survived this gross invasion and not give Seven Days any clicks at our expense.
News of this video being spread around our own backyard is the last thing we at the Center wanted, as the risk to the people in this video is very real and already is having a tangible impact on our lives. As we told Seven Days, “What will be a few clicks for you, has the potential to impact us for a lifetime.” While Seven Days did allow us to go on the record for their story, they did not heed our appeals to refrain from using the perpetrator’s name.
We are currently planning a healing event for those who were at the Center on October 20th to come together with a licensed therapist and process our shared trauma. We are going to continue to host events and build our community, while doing everything in our power to protect ourselves from further incursions with new policies, increased vigilance, and are working to ensure that our facilitators have plans in place in case of emergency. We will not be caught off guard again and will not stop coming together to help one another.
These right-wing agitators entered our event using false identities, the four of them posed as a gay couple with a trans child and as a lesbian couple. They pretended to be ignorant allies to disrupt our event. We didn't learn of their deception until a few weeks after the event.
What we want you to take away from this is that, while we may have been victimized, we are not sitting idly by and waiting for the next incursion. We are banding together to heal and are doing everything in our power to not only survive, but thrive, despite the best attempts of those would see us hide ourselves in fear. Trans and gender non-conforming people are resilient by necessity, as those who threaten the status quo of existing power structures must be.
We’re not going anywhere.