ORLANDO, Fla. – Allies and members of the LGBTQ community gathered together all across the city as many observed International Transgender Day of Visibility.
The LGBTQ Center of Orlando held a gathering Friday to help support the trans community by bringing together members and allies, just to simply talk and converse.
Katie Horton, a registered mental health counseling intern at the Center for Healing Hearts, opened up a dialogue among people attending the gathering.
The room was packed with people hoping to find a sense of community with some even using origami as a form of therapy.
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Many members spoke of their lived experiences as they recognize and observe the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
“It puts trans folks on the front end of, ‘Hey I am here, I am living my authentic life, we exist we always existed,’” said Lamia Moukaddam, who is the outreach manager for The Center.
Moukaddam helped provide an affirmation station, providing clothes not based on gender, just size for the trans, non-binary, and cis-gendered communities.
“It’s extremely important to have a space where you know you can come into it and be authentic, there are so many attacks on our trans community, just our community in general,” said Moukaddam.
Outside of the meeting, people were seen gathering in downtown Orlando protesting bills they say target the LGBTQ community.
“In my practice right now, I am being overwhelmed with families and parents of children minors that are scared, they’re not going to be able to have access to care,” Horton said.
Horton says right now the number of people she sees in her practice has increased since she says state lawmakers have disproportionately targeted members of the LGBTQ community in the recent filing of legislation.
“I am seeing clients coming and seeing individuals in the community that can’t go to work, that are stuck at home because they are so afraid to walk out that door,” Horton said.
Going forward, people here say they are looking to get results as state lawmakers are still in session.
“That looks like a lot of advocacy, it looks like a lot of taking care of one another,” Moukaddam said.
Horton says as a member of the trans community herself, she does see hope as she looks to the future of her community.
“When I see the younger generation,” said Horton, “I’m talking about 25 and under they come in with more knowledge, more connection, more advocacy for each other than I’ve ever seen and I been out for 15 years.”
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