“Dude Looks Like A Lady” Event Is Bad for Brevard, Bad For The Transgender Community

Written By: Gina Duncan
Director of Transgender Equality
Equality Florida

“Dude Looks Like a Lady” Event is Bad for Brevard, Bad for the Transgender Community

As many of you know, I grew up in Brevard County. My family moved there in 1964. I went to Tropical Elementary, Jefferson Junior High, and Merritt Island High School. I was class President, Mr. Merritt Island High, and Co-Captain of Merritt Islands first undefeated state championship football team in 1973. I received a football scholarship to attend East Carolina University. I returned to Orlando to enjoy a successful 30-year career in mortgage banking. In 2006, I became a member of the transgender community, no longer willing to live an inauthentic life.

I am now an advocate and educator for Equality Florida, working to improve the lives of transgender Floridians. Equality Florida has worked for 20 years to pass over 40 county and city non-discrimination ordinances that now protect 60% of Floridians from being discriminated against in employment, housing or access to public places due to sexual orientation or gender identity.

It greatly disappoints me that Brevard County, my home county, does not have a fully inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance at the county level and no city in Brevard does either. Brevard is starkly lagging in promoting an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming environment for all to live in. Recently, Palm Bay, Brevard’s largest city, held two contentious open sessions to consider an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. The hate-speech and vitriol hurled against the transgender community at those meetings was repulsive. The ordinance failed.

And now, in a time when the Trump administration has rolled back guidance protecting our transgender youth in schools and attacked transgender men and women in uniform, an event is planned that reinforces all the stereotypes we work to dispel every day.

Yes, it is for a good cause. And yes, supporting the Women’s Center, which has as its mission helping women and their children put their lives back in order after surviving domestic, dating, and sexual violence, is the right thing to do. But doing it by putting on a farcical drag show and using terms like ‘transformation’ is in poor taste and further marginalizes the transgender community. "All we must do is endure one single night of humiliation” says Bob Gabordi, Editor of the Florida Today paper in Brevard. For many trans people, they endure a lifetime. I realize this is for a good cause but it is not trans friendly and only reinforces the "guy in a dress" mentality that is pervasive in Brevard and why Brevard lags the rest of the state in not having a a county or city Human Rights Ordinance.

There must be a better way to raise money than by humiliating and marginalizing the transgender community. In a time when our transgender school children and transgender men and women in the military are under attack, the optics of this could not be more misguided.

**Gina has reached out to the Executive Director at the Women's Center to discuss the event but has currently received no response.** 




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