Men: You can do better. We want to help.

Last Monday, a 16-year-old Black girl from Ward 8 confronted her harassers — men who serve food in her community — and told them clearly, calmly, and repeatedly: “No matter what I’m wearing, I deserve to walk down the street without being harassed.” Their response? They contorted their faces in disbelief of the radical idea that women and girls deserve to feel safe in public spaces.

Blaming women for the harassment they experience while navigating public spaces is unacceptable. Yet, men continue to blame women — or their attitudes or their profession or their clothes — for their actions. We need to rethink this common refrain. We need to rethink masculinity.

Are you or someone you know ready to commit to working to construct a new understanding of masculinity? If so, apply by August 23rd to join the second cohort of Rethink Masculinity, which runs from mid-September to early November!

ReThink Masculinity, a partnership between Collective Action for SafeSpaces, ReThink, and DC Rape Crisis Center, is a consciousness building group, for and by men, to construct healthier masculinities.

The program is a two-month long consciousness building group focused on equipping men with the skills and community to rethink how they express their identity. Rethink Masculinity is committed to being intersectional, to centering queer and trans people, and to building a culture of accountability and trust. Applications are open to all men, regardless of assigned gender. People of color, queer and/or trans men, and DC natives are encouraged to apply.

Questions? Want to learn more? Join us for an informational happy hour next Monday at Nellies or email daniel@collectiveactiondc.org or stephen@collectiveactiondc.org.

Want to take action in solidarity with the girls harassed in Ward 8? Come out on August 23rd from 5-9pm for “Reclaiming My Body,” a speakout and food table where people can still get the food they need and feel safe.

Join Us to #PassSHPA!

For far too many of us, street harassment is a fact of daily life. Street harassment, however, is more than just catcalling on the street. Someone might be targeted by a harasser for any number of reasons, including actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and housing status. With a significant increase in hate violence in the District since Trump’s election — including white supremacist posters in Bloomingdale just last week — CASS is more committed than ever to addressing all types of street harassment in our city. That’s why we partnered with D.C. City Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau to introduce the Street Harassment Prevention Act of 2017

The Street Harassment Prevention Act, which we affectionately call SHPA, will broaden the definition of street harassment to include our most marginalized communities. And the SHPA will create mechanisms of data collection and training requirements to make sure that everyone’s experience of street harassment is recognized and addressed.

CASS and our partner organizations know that we need holistic solutions to the problem of street harassment that rely on community-based initiatives rather than law enforcement.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Tweet. Join CASS for a Twitter Town Hall on June 29th at 8 p.m. to discuss street harassment in DC and #PassSHPA.
  2. Organize. Before the Twitter Town Hall tonight, join CASS and CM Nadeau at Sudhouse at 6 p.m. to learn how you can plug in to advocacy work.
  3. Testify. Share your story of harassment with the DC Council on Wednesday, July 12th.
  4. Amplify. Join our Thunderclap to share your support of the SHPA. 
  5. Share all of the above with your friends!

This is the perfect opportunity to engage in local activism and protect your friends and neighbors. Let’s #PassSHPA!

Let’s get CJ hired!

For three and a half years, CJ made his living as a hard-working cashier. He always came to work on time and constantly went above and beyond to achieve the very best at the retail store where he worked. But despite his work ethic, CJ watched and waited as other people were hired and promoted to manager positions. For all his accomplishments, he remained where he was as a cashier.

Then one day, something happened to CJ: he got sick.

When he went to his boss with a doctor’s letter, his boss refused him outright and fired CJ on the spot. CJ was devastated.

“When I got fired, I was so distraught because I worked so hard to get to that position,” says CJ.

Sadly, for trans people of color like CJ, finding and maintaining a stable job can be a challenge.

In DC, the unemployment rate for the transgender community is 36 percent, and skyrockets to 55 percent for Black trans people. Research shows that the root cause of unemployment for trans people is tied directly to discrimination. What’s more — 40 percent of transgender adults were refused at least one job because of their gender identity and 47 percent of employees preferred hiring a less qualified cisgender applicant over a more qualified trans applicant.

The new Safe Bar Collective is working to fix that. Your support on June 8th during #DoMore24 will help us ensure that trans people of color — including CJ — are trained, hired, and supported.

The Safe Bar Collective is piloting a program to provide four trans people of color with access to safe and supportive employment in partner bars and restaurants this summer. CASS and the Restaurant Opportunities Center of DC (ROC-DC) will provide everything CJ and the three other participants need to thrive — including restaurant job training, hygiene kits, and transportation stipends to and from work.

Take the pledge to help CJ access safe, supportive employment at a Safe Bar!

Thank You For Your Support to #FreeGiGi!

Yesterday GiGi Thomas was given a 30-year sentence and 10 years were suspended. The sentence is 20 years, however, she will not serve all of them.

GiGi Thomas is a transgender woman of color who has worked for more than 15 years supporting people in need in the D.C.-Baltimore area. She served as a client consultant with the sex-worker rights and human services organization HIPS and recently completed a Masters in Social Work from Howard University. Over the years, GiGi helped thousands of community members find shelter and sustenance, reunited families, cared for the injured, and spoke out about injustice especially regarding the treatment of the trans community. Gigi’s peers describe her as “one of those people who just gives and gives with all they have,” and an “amazing woman with a heart of gold.”

Since October 2015, GiGi has been held without bail in a men’s prison, often in solitary confinement. At her trial in February 2017, her attorney argued for involuntary manslaughter and a jury (obviously not of her peers) found her guilty of 2nd degree murder. The prosecuting attorney misgendered her and erased the context of her experiences as a trans woman of color, social worker, and community leader.

The ongoing support from the community to right this injustice has been amazing — you’ve written letters, shared stories, and appeared in the courtroom.

The judge reported that she examined the strong community support — and that GiGi’s support was “different from normal support.” Your letters and presence at the courtroom demonstrated that GiGi is appreciated in our community and her work is valuable.

GiGi will be at the jail for about two weeks, and will then be transferred to Baltimore to be placed. You can write to her in the meantime at GiGi Marie Thomas (A65386), PG County Correctional Center, 13400 Dille Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772.

The work continues to #FreeGiGi, as well as other incarcerated Black trans women who fight this system daily.

Remember DC’s Historic Roundtable on Street Harassment? What’s Next.

It’s been over a year since DC’s historic roundtable on street harassment when more than 40 diverse community members spoke out about their experiences with harassment in public spaces — on the street, in bars, on public transit, and in local shelters.

  

Since then, we’ve had an impactful year of growth in our programming with the re-launch of Safe Bars, which trained staff at 27 local bars in bystander intervention strategies, and a new phase of our awareness campaign on public transit with WMATA that feature our city’s most marginalized identities and encourage bystanders to speak out against harassment.

But what’s happening on a citywide level?

This winter, CASS convened the End Street Harassment Coalition, which will work to pass the Street Harassment Prevention Act, introduced by CM Nadeau. The bill will collect data on street harassment and make recommendations to curb this most pervasive form of violence. If passed, the bill will ensure that all government employees are trained to recognize and respond to harassment.

The original iteration of the bill defined street harassment as unwanted comments, gestures, or actions targeting someone because of their real or perceived gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. But the past year’s local high-profile incidents of harassment at Shaw Library and Banneker Pool, and especially the fall’s spike in incidents of harassment on the basis of real or perceived racial, ethnic, and/or religious identity demonstrated that we must broaden the definition of street harassment, collect appropriate data to assess the ways that different communities experience harassment, and recommend holistic solutions to prevent harassment from escalating to more severe violence.

The End Street Harassment Coalition, a group of about 20 local organizations, will work to form DC’s task force on street harassment in 2017, and we need your help.

Sign up here to testify in support of the bill. And tell your Council members that with this year’s 62% increase in hate violence across the DC area, we need community-based solutions to address harassment now.

Want to join the Coalition? Email sarah@collectiveactiondc.org!

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