Zosia Zaks, Ruby Zaks and Dr. Harriet Wimms

Zosia, Ruby + HarrieteThe threat to the hard won civil rights of the LGBT community reminded me of these brave individuals I met during the weekend of the Women's March on Washington. Zosia Zaks, age 47 lives in Maryland and is marching in DC

"One side of my family survived the Holocaust. This is the same slide into fascism. I don't understand Jews who aren't upset. After the election, I called neighbors to come to my house and I said this isn't about Democratic versus Republican anymore, it's about survival. In just a few weeks, we chartered 3 buses, built a website and a list-serve, created a 6-person Medical Team, recruited 6 bus captains and 2 follow cars, held 2 community orientations, and we are ready to roll. I'm going because I am a trans man with a disability. I'm going for my 2 daughters. I'm going for my girlfriend who is African-American and Native-American and hearing impaired. I'm going for all the autistic adults I work with at Towson University. I must be at the march on January 21. It's about saying you do not tolerate what is happening."

Ruby Zaks, age 12 lives in Maryland and will be marching in a local area march.

"I'm marching for our rights and because I think Trump's policies aren't fair."

Dr. Harriette Wimms lives in Maryland is not able to march.

“I am supporting the March virtually but cannot attend in person. From hearing impairment to orthopedic issues and anxiety, accommodations that could make my presence at the march just aren't available. I represent all of the other people with disabilities, hidden or apparent, who can't march but who are part of this movement.

But there's another, even more important reason why I am not marching today. My generational history holds the memories of the civil rights movements past--and the crimes against peaceful protesters. I am palpably aware of how vulnerable marchers may be, at the hands of hate groups. From pepper spray to fire hoses.

And I decided to stay home to keep our children safe from groups that might attack those asking for justice at the women's march.”

 

 

Cybele Tamulonis + Evie B.

new Jersey Marchers0112Cybele Tamulonis (Mother) - will be marching in NYC: "My earliest childhood memory is being pushed by my  mother in a stroller through Central Park with the Bread and Puppet theater while we protested the Vietnam War.  I can't believe it's 2017 and women's rights and education are being targeted. Really anything that pertains to equality will be targeted.  We live in Blairstown, NJ, and this is a very conservative community. I am marching so that we can join other women and have our voices heard. I am going to ensure that Evie has full control over the rights of her body." Evie B. age 13 (Daughter) - will be marching in NYC: "I am marching because Trump is only supporting white working males. I think he will make more hate in the world and is trying to kick people out of the country because they are different.  He is possibly taking away hate crime legislation. I live in a town surrounded by very conservative Christian people. It's very stressful trying to figure out who I am in this place. I don't feel safe to explore who I really am and who I want to be."

 

Tanya Taylor Rubinstein

tanya-taylor-rubenstein0034"I grew up as a white waspy insider.  But being a woman, and being fatherless,  I always felt like an outsider. I wouldn't have found my purpose in life to help others tell their stories if I hadn't had the experience of feeling marginalized." - Tanya Taylor is storytelling coach and the founder and CEO of The Global School of Story.  Tanya is also a survivor of sexual abuse.

Ceyenne Doroshow

ceyenne-doroshowmed"When I was a sex worker,  I was outed by Governor Chris Christie and the NJ District Attorney.  They accused me of being a Madam and published a map to my home. It was terrifying - but because of that experience I am a formerly incarcerated sex worker and a role model and spokesperson for not just the Trans community but for all women." - Ceyenne Doroshow is the author of "Cooking in Heels" which she published with the help of the Red Umbrella Project.

Jasmin Peltro

Jasmin Peltro"There is a lot of pressure to be a specific kind of a woman. People don't always recognize my femininity because I take on the more masculine roles in relationships and at work. I express my feminism through my mannerisms rather than how I look.  Am I a lack of a woman because I don't connect with that part of me, or am I still a woman?" - Jasmin Peltro works at WeWork and aspires to be a photographer.

Sarah Bender

Sarah Bendermed "Everything I am now is because I am a woman and I want to make life better for other women." explained Sarah Bender.  I met Sarah at a return peace corps volunteer event at a bar in the East Village last night.  I was in the peace corps 20 years ago and I think there was only one person at the event last night that was older than me.  I looked around the tables at all of these young do-gooders and they all looked just like my Peace Corps cohort, except back then the guys had longish hair instead of man buns and piercings weren't quite as common.  Sarah served as a volunteer in Jordan and now is working as the assistant director of an LGBT Health Center that is part of the Metropolitan Hospital Center.  "I love being a woman.  It is always going to be hard as a woman. The expectations are different, but even in Jordan I felt that I got to experience something among the women that the male volunteers would not see. The minute men left a room the demeanor of the women would change instantly and we'd be talking openly and laughing over tea." While in Jordan, Sarah could not let her community know that she was gay. "It was weird, three months before leaving for Peace Corps I was canvassing on the streets of New York City saying 'hey do you have a second for gay rights?' and then I am in Jordan and back in the closet.  I understood the policy, it was for my own safety."   Homosexuality is decriminalized in Jordan but it is still taboo. "I took Peace Corps seriously. I didn't mind not disclosing that I'm a lesbian. It was a great experience and I met the girl of my dreams. She was in Peace Corps in Jordan too. We are engaged and getting married in September. At first we weren't going to announce it on social media because our friends in Jordan are on facebook too.  When we did announce it on facebook we received so many loving and supporting messages from Jordan. It was really nice."