State Trans* Leaders Speaks to Transgender Rights at Eastern

Left to right, Cassandra Martineau, university assistant in Eastern’s Pride Center; IV Staklo, hotline program director at Trans Lifeline; Ace Ricker, transgender advocate; Diana Lombardi, executive director of Connecticut Transadvocacy Coaltion; Eastern President Elsa Núñez; and CSCU President Ojakian.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian visited Eastern Connecticut State University on April 10 to support the transgender community and recognize three statewide leaders of the trans* community who participated in the panel discussion “Building Resiliency in a Time of Backlash.”

Panelists included Diana Lombardi, executive director of the Connecticut Transadvocacy Coalition; IV Staklo, hotline program director at Trans Lifeline and an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition in Connecticut; and Ace Ricker, a transgender advocate since the age of 15. Cassandra Martineau, university assistant in Eastern’s Pride Center, moderated the panel discussion.

“While the past few years have seen incredible gains in rights and visibility for the trans* community, this visibility has come with a certain degree of backlash against these advances,” said Lombardi. Lombardi volunteers at the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, and has worked for years advocating for the transgender population in Connecticut, especially the homeless trans* community in Hartford.

As a Ruska Roma trans person born in the USSR, Staklo relayed how they provide education on Soviet history and speak frequently about LGBTQ experiences in Eastern Europe. They have provided support to trans people across the United States and Canada and advocated for LGBTQ empowerment, intersex rights work and organizing against police violence and U.S. imperialism.

            Ricker said he has been working with many organizations fighting for equality. He has provided testimony for house bills such as HB 6599 (An Act Concerning Discrimination) and HB 7006 (An Act Concerning Birth Certificate Amendments). He also has spoken at numerous forums at Yale Divinity, Rutgers, UConn, among others, spreading awareness and education about the LGBT community.

            Ojakian said he attended the panel discussion “to support the LGBT community, especially the Trans community.” He pointed to the current attempt by some in our nation to roll back the rights and protections that have been legislated over the years in CT and elsewhere.

Written by Dwight Bachman