I was twenty five, a young and rambunctious unionist - I didn’t think of myself as a trouble maker, more a rabble-rouser. It was my first AFSCME convention - honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting into. However,when I saw resolution 11, the resolution to bring transgender and gender nonconforming peoples into the protected clauses in the AFSCME contracts, I just knew that I’d been “voluntold” to go to the convention for a reason. It was an anxious couple of days, waiting, biting my nails, all until I finally heard AFSCME President Lee Saunders call that resolution. It was a Thursday and we’d been in session since Monday. I found my way to mic number nine, my paper in hand, as ready as could be.
“Delegate at Mic 9.” My stomach rose into my throat and I began talking. Someone had given me the forewarning that I’d start hearing feedback from the mic, but just keep talking. I poured my heart into the microphone, talking about how I’d felt welcomed when I signed into the convention. The person who signed me in saw my pronoun pin and asked if the name in the database was the correct one for my name tag, and that validated who I was. Just because I’m trans didn’t mean I was any less of an AFSCME Sibling. When you’ve been subject of abuse and assault for who you are, feeling welcome and safe is important.
When it was all said and done, I was embraced by my fellow unionists and there began chatter about having a Pride Caucus. And as with life, things get busy and things move to the back burner.
I got convinced into joining the Emerging Leaders class for this year and I’m glad I did. In Emerging Leaders, you’re given a long term project to work on and that long term project ended up becoming the start for Oregon AFSCME’s Pride Caucus. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Following up with the 2019 Oregon State AFSCME Convention, we dropped a video about the importance of non-gendered pronouns to go along with a resolution to make the contracts we have non-gendered. That was the Pride Caucus’ first project and it’s nowhere near the last project to come from the caucus.
There’s a lot more to the state of Oregon than what most people think - there’s a lot of rural counties and townships, more than just the bustling Salem and Portland. It was important for our message to reach these areas as equally as it did the metropolitan hotspots.
The pronoun video was certainly the first of the outreach and nowhere near the last. To be able to do our best service to the LGBTQ+ people within Oregon AFSCME, we have to help the more marginalized folks out in places like Malheur and Crook Counties as much as we’re standing with people in Portland, a major hotspot for LGBTQ+ folks in Oregon.
Everything from educational videos to Monthly Newsletter, Get Togethers and more - the Pride Caucus has a big plate in front of it and we’re ready for all the challenges we face. The first big plan is to get liaisons from different Locals together - from there we can work on where the Pride Caucus should go. We will have equity when we have everyone represented at the table. That means people all the way from the metropolitan areas of Oregon out to the rural most parts of Oregon.
We’re all siblings in this Union Family, and I’m glad to stand with my siblings in this journey for equity.