Pride Center to Gather Community

Burlington, VT -  We have heard from our trans community that the phrase Mister Sister is triggering a response and furthers the oppression they are already feeling.  At the Pride Center, we recognize that this name has been used as a transmisogynistic slur, and we know that some members of our community have been offended and traumatized by its usage for a place that intends to be welcoming to all.

The Center's role is to support the trans community as the most vulnerable part of the LGBQT spectrum.  Our responsibility as the Community Center is to acknowledge that all members of the LGBTQ community have experienced vastly different histories of oppression and different and to offer our support.
As part of this support we are holding a Trans Town Hall on Thursday, March 2nd at 6:00 p.m. at the Champlain Senior Center on 241 N. Winooski Street, so we can come together as a community to honor the hurt and move towards resolution.

-We know that this issue is polarizing for our community, because frankly it is also polarizing for our Board of Directors.  In respect of this divide, we are not able to issue a statement for or against the name.  Instead, here is what we are hoping will happen:

-We hope everyone involved understands that violence against the transgender community is not imagined.  It is a widespread problem felt in every state, including Vermont, and there is a relationship between the use of transphobic speech and other forms of violence.  The Pride Center is available to help any community member experiencing violence.

-We hope everyone involved understands that feeling offended, traumatized, or afraid by the name Mister Sister is a legitimate response. No one is to be mocked for feeling this way. The Pride Center is here to offer support should that not be the case.

-We hope everyone involved understands that feeling empowered, amused, or   titillated by the name Mister Sister is also legitimate response but lacks empathy towards our trans and gnc community members. No one is to be demonized for feeling this way.

-We will not tolerate speech, in any form or forum that is intended to harm or denigrate any member of our community.  If you witness this behavior, the Pride Center is available for assistance in determining an appropriate response.

-We hope the people behind Mister Sister know that we appreciate their intent to create a welcoming business. We also hope they acknowledge that their decisions and responses to feedback have hurt some members of our community.  The Pride Center is available to the people behind Mister Sister as a resource as well.

-We hope all who participate in the debate do not lose faith in each other or themselves. In this time of exterior polarization, it now more vital than ever that everyone in the LGBTQ community works together towards to the greater good.

As a group, we proclaim our hopes with the full understanding that some individuals will be disappointed, including members of our own board.  We encourage everyone who has been affected by this to participate in the dialog on this issue as fully as they wish.  Our decision to not take a position collectively as the Pride Center Board of Directors is in no way a discouragement for individuals to take action, speak up, and to organize on either side of the issue.

In closing, we may not be in agreement in how to respond to Mister Sister, but we are in perfect agreement that this center is your center for all members of the LGBTQ community, and our services and help are available to you when you need us.

For more information please contact Josie Leavitt at 802-860-7812 or
Pride Center of Vermont | (802) 860-7812   |
255 S. Champlain Street  Suite 12
Burlington, VT 05401