HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Nationwide, 16 percent of people know someone who is transgender.
Advocacy group Equality Virginia is hoping to change that, starting with a series of panel discussions.
The panel series is called “Ask a Trans Person” and will be held at four different locations in Hampton Roads this November and December. The first discussion launched Thursday night in Hampton.
The panels aim to create a safe space where people can ask questions about what it means to be transgender and what challenges transgender people face.
Organizers hope the conversations help break down stereotypes.
“Transgender people are our neighbors and our coworkers and our friends and our family,” said Margaret Hughes, a site coordinator with Equality Virginia. “Transgender people are here and are living their lives.”
Hughes and the folks at Equality Virginia recognize that a lot of people are still learning about what it means to be transgender.
“Very often, until we’ve met someone who is transgender, we might be carrying stereotypes or misinformation about the transgender community,” said Hughes. “This provides a safe space for people to ask questions and learn more about the transgender people in our lives and in our communities.”
These discussions kick off Thursday night, featuring a panel made up of transgender people in the Hampton Roads community.
“I think not every space is a space to ask any question you might think of, but that’s why we’re putting on this event, so that anyone who is interested in learning about the community can ask questions and meet trans folks face to face,” Hughes said.
The panelists will also touch on the lack of state laws protecting the entire LGBTQ community from discrimination.
“There are no statewide laws protecting transgender and gay people from discrimination in housing, employment and public spaces,” Hughes added. “So it means that our transgender neighbors can be fired from their jobs just for being trans.”
For those who attend, Hughes hope it will help break down stereotypes and teach people to support all of their neighbors.
The panel started Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the main branch of the public library in Hampton.
There will be four more panel discussions at different locations across Hampton Roads.
You can find more information on the Equality Virginia website.