Response to SCOTUS Decision on Transgender Military Ban

on Tuesday, 22 January 2019. Posted in Safespace

Response to SCOTUS Decision on Transgender Military Ban

Response to SCOTUS Decision on Transgender Military Ban

BURLINGTON, VT – January 22, 2019 — On this day, the Supreme Court is choosing to uphold blatant discrimination against our transgender and gender non-conforming military personnel. In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump's transgender military ban to go into effect. While the Justices have not ruled on the merits of the case, they have allowed the ban to go into effect while the lower courts move forward with appeals processes. This is the same policy that was made known on August 25, 2017 via a memo from President Trump; the memo was directing the Pentagon to bar transgender Americans from military service. The Trump-Pence administration continues to target and alienate our community members from their right to serve our country. Similar attacks from our country’s leadership since Trump has taken office have been documented by The National Center for Transgender Equality.

We, at Pride Center of Vermont, wholeheartedly believe that this policy is targeted discrimination regardless of how the Trump-Pence administration wants to paint it. Upholding the ban sends a clear message that our Supreme Court has decided to see people who are transgender as ‘less than’ their peers. We are here to remind you, our state, and our nation that our community will not be erased or invalidated by this administration or anyone else. #WontBeErased

Many transgender people across the country are fearing the impacts of this policy on their livelihoods both directly and indirectly. Many are wondering: “Will this cost me my job?”, “Will my partner or family use this to validate their transphobia?”, and “What does this mean for my future safety in this country?” This policy’s impact extends beyond the military and erodes our feelings of safety in our day-to-day lives.

To those impacted, we hope this serves as a reminder that you are loved and that you matter. This is not the first time our communities have experienced injustice at a broad level, and we are here to help those impacted continue to persevere. You are not alone and you matter. Please know that we exist as your Center.

If you are an LGBTQ+ and/or HIV-affected person experiencing discrimination or violence, advocates through our SafeSpace Anti-Violence Program are available to provide free and confidential support. Our advocates are available during office hours (Monday - Thursday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Friday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM) via phone at (802) 863-0003, in person, or via email at safespace@pridecentervt.org.

To download the full statement, click here.

Prideability Episodes 9 & 10

on Friday, 18 January 2019.

Prideability Episodes 9 & 10

Prideability is a series focused on disabilities in the LGBTQ community. The host, David Frye, is a founder of the Disability Network Group at the Pride Center of VT. He addresses issues, concerns, and provide information that will help educate others on this topic in Vermont and across the country. 





Episode 9:
Host David Frye interviews Susan Aranoff of the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council.


Episode 10:
Host David Frye reflects on the first 10 episodes of the Prideability series.


Prideability Episode 7: featuring Anne Vernon

on Monday, 17 December 2018.

Prideability Episode 7: featuring Anne Vernon













Host David Frye speaks Anne Vernon who is currently a Senior Manager with Howard Center in Burlington, VT. She administers a staff team that supports 130 adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Intellectual Disabilities, Physical Disabilities, and co-occurring mental illness. Additionally, Anne leads several groups that she developed for individuals on the Spectrum, to include: a Women’s Group, a Group for Individuals who are Trans/Questioning & Allies, a Video and Gaming Group, and Chess, Checkers, and Cribbage groups. Anne’s philosophy is to support each person individually to reach their goals by helping them to develop strategies to be successful. She is involved in community building and seeks to provide education about barriers individuals on the Spectrum often face.

Prideability is a series focused on disabilities in the LGBTQ community. The host, David Frye, is a founder of the Disability Network at the Pride Center of VT. He addresses issues, concerns, and provide information that will help educate others on this topic in Vermont and across the country.

Watch the newest episode here: https://www.retn.org/show/prideability-episode-7-featuring-anne-vernon

Response: Breaking the Cycle

on Friday, 07 December 2018. Posted in Safespace

Response: Breaking the Cycle

On Tuesday, December 4th, WCAX posted the article, Breaking the Cycle: Is restorative justice the answer for domestic abuse? The article addresses a broader question of justice within our society and what healing may - or may not - look like for survivors.

Below are some quotes from the article (see full article here: https://bit.ly/2PpRnwq):

Last year, nearly half of all misdemeanor domestic violence cases (379 of 797) and more than half of all felonies (270 of 409) were dismissed by either prosecutors or the courts...

“The numbers of cases that get dismissed in the court system speak for themselves,” [says] T.J. Donovan, D-Vt. Attorney General… “What's happening in the traditional criminal justice system isn't working. So let's have the courage to say it's not working and let's start looking at different option.” Donovan said.

[Galaise, a survivor of violence shared,] "I feel like the system utterly failed him. And because it failed him, it failed our whole family," Galaise said.

Experiencing harm within the criminal legal system is unfortunately all too common for survivors.When a survivor works within the criminal legal system, the choice to prosecute - or not to prosecute - lies with the local state's attorney. The survivor’s experience and wishes for safety help to inform the process and what the attorney seeks in criminal charges, but the power to make that decision ultimately lies with the state.

For many of the survivors who PCVT’s SafeSpace Anti-Violence Program works with, there is the additional fear of experiencing identity related harm through the criminal legal system (e.g., homophobia, transphobia, ableism, racism, classism, etc.). The National Transgender Discrimination Survey (2012, page 124) stated,

“Police services were the most highly problematic aspect of government services overall, with respondents reporting the highest rate of assault when attempting to access police services (6%), along with very high rates of harassment/ disrespect (29%) and denial of equal service (20%).”

Prior to working within the criminal legal system, transgender survivors may ask, “Will they be racially biased? Will they misgender me while they are talking about a really deeply harmful experience? Will they believe me? Will they remember to have an interpreter available for me? Will they ‘victim-blame’ me? Will the jury dismiss me due to [insert *ism here]?”.

At SafeSpace, we strive to support and empower survivors to make choices that feel best to them. We believe that survivors are the experts for their own lives and should lead their own decisions without pressure from others. This philosophy means that we respect a survivor’s choice to participate – or not to participate – in the criminal legal system.

SafeSpace is available to provide emotional support, advocacy, and resources to LGBTQ+ and HIV affected survivors of violence (domestic, sexual, emotional, and hate) and discrimination. We also are available to provide trainings and technical assistance to providers who are striving to provide more inclusive support.

Advocates can be reached during office hours (Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) through our warm-line 802-863-0003 and by email safespace@pridecentervt.org.

We believe you. We support you. And we believe that you are the expert of your own healing or movement forward.

Do Sexual Minorities Receive Appropriate Sexual and Reproductive Health Care and Counseling?

on Tuesday, 27 November 2018.

Do Sexual Minorities Receive Appropriate Sexual and Reproductive Health Care and Counseling?


Context: Sexual minority women (SMW) are less likely to use sexual and reproductive health care services and receive contraceptive counseling than their heterosexual peers. The role of recent sexual partners and the type of information provided when SMW access health services are unclear.

Methods: The National Survey of Family Growth 2006–2015 was used to document sexual orientation disparities in the use of sexual and reproductive health services and counseling in clinical settings among 20,703 women. We incorporate data on sexual partners in the past 12 months to investigate whether recent sex with men was associated with health care seeking behavior and reproductive counseling.

Results: Eight-seven percent of the sample reported a male partner in the past 12 months, including 83% of bisexual women and 17% of lesbian women. In clinical settings, 48% of women reported birth control counseling at pregnancy or Pap tests, 49% reported a condom consult at an sexually transmitted diseases (STD) screening, and 9% reported emergency contraception counseling at a Pap test. Logistic regression models show that lesbian women were less likely than heterosexual women to have been given a contraceptive prescription or received contraceptive counseling, but were more likely to have received an STD test. In clinical settings, lesbian women were less likely to receive contraceptive counseling at pregnancy tests, and lesbian women without male partners were less likely to have a counseling about condom use at STD-related visits compared with heterosexual women.

Conclusions: At least some women and providers adjust health care seeking behaviors and information provided to women based upon recent sexual behavior histories. More work is needed to understand why disparities in reproductive health services and contraceptive use persist among SMW who engage in sex with men.

To read more about "Do Sexual Minorities Receive Appropriate Sexual and Reproductive Health Care and Counseling?", click here.

Make a gift to PCVT this Giving Tuesday

on Tuesday, 27 November 2018. Posted in Safespace

Comcast has generously committed to matching all donations up to $5,000!

Make a gift to PCVT this Giving Tuesday

Join us for this global day of philanthropy and throughout the end of the year by giving back to the community during this holiday season. In honor of Giving Tuesday, will you support our mission of creating a more equitable society for LGBTQ people?

We make it our mission to engage, empower, and advocate for our community. We provide vital services to an ever-increasing number of people at our center in Burlington and in communities across the state. As we continue to trudge through this uncertain political climate, your support is more critical than ever. We are committed to providing life-changing services and advocacy for LGBTQ Vermonters, but we can’t do it without your partnership.

You can make a difference this Giving Tuesday. Your gift of any amount supports the health and wellness of the most vulnerable, advocates for equality and justice, and builds a culturally vibrant LGBTQ community.

And today, Comcast has generously committed to matching all donations to the Pride Center of Vermont up to $5,000!

Together we can continue to shape the future we want to see.

In Solidarity,

Mike Sig




Mike Bensel
Executive Director
Pride Center of Vermont

Q&A Forum: On Being LGBTQ+ and Aging

on Wednesday, 14 November 2018. Posted in Safespace

Q&A Forum: On Being LGBTQ+ and Aging

We are to launch a new feature focusing on Being LGBTQ+ and Aging with responses based on information from our partners at Champlain College. To submit a question for next month's newsletter, please email your question to whatsup@pridecentervt.org.  

Q&A Forum:

On Being LGBTQ+ and Aging

This month we are excited to launch a new What's Up Q&A column! We are featuring a section focusing on Being LGBTQ+ and Aging with responses based on information from our partners at Champlain College. To submit a question for next month's newsletter, please email your question to whatsup@pridecentervt.org.  

Q: I read on Healthy People 2020 that LGBTQ+people are (for the first time!) identified in the U.S. national health priorities. If this is good news, I am concerned by the fact that this might lead to considering all LGBTQ+ aging population as “at-risk,” opening the door to healthcare coverage discrimination. Is that even true? If it is, is there anything that can be done to minimize the risks?

A: Thank you for a very interesting question! There are risk factors that have been identified and that may be specific to the LGBTQ+ population. If we think about what “healthy aging” means, a few categories come to mind, like physical and mental health, social connections, and a positive sense of self/identity. Studies that explored these within the LGBTQ+ community found out that a positive sense of sexual identity can be a key factor to promote healthy aging, while past experiences of discrimination or victimization can be detrimental to healthy aging. The good news is that people are trying to address these risk factors, so that their impact will become (hopefully) less and less evident, and this should also prevent healthcare discrimination. Given all that, the most effective path towards healthy aging healthily would be to build connections within the community, find groups or even a few people who allow you to express your real self by supporting your sexual and individual identity, and – obviously – try to minimize unhealthy behaviors like smoking and engage in healthy ones like exercising.

Getting more information from the Pride Center about their current activity targeting LGBTQ+ adults over 45, like the group Momentum would be a good first step to improve the quality and size of your social network.

Additional Reading: Karen I. Fredriksen-Goldsen, Hyun-Jun Kim, Chengshi Shiu, Jayn Goldsen, Charles A. Emlet; Successful Aging Among LGBT Older Adults: Physical and Mental Health-Related Quality of Life by Age Group, The Gerontologist, Volume 55, Issue 1, 1 February 2015, Pages 154–168 [https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/55/1/154/2957461#58792619]

Q: Is gender transition in later life common? Are there any negative consequences?

A:  It appears that many older Baby Boomers are seriously contemplating gender transitions in their later years; within this population, it seems that transgender women may be disproportionately coming out later in life. A study collecting life-stories from a broad sample of transgender women - all of whom seriously considered or pursued a gender transition past the age of 50 - reported that their contemplation of gender transition came after years, often decades, of internal and interpersonal struggle.

This struggle goes against what’s believed to be important for healthy aging: a strong positive sense of self, and being able to work on the negative experience of discrimination and victimization. From this perspective, gender transition later in life could be seen as a positive step toward better aging. Heteronormativity still has a pervasive influence in our society which means that transgender older adults are often forced to reconstruct the meaning of their experiences at the periphery of these norms; this is hard.

Additional reading: Vanessa D. Fabbre; Gender Transitions in Later Life: A Queer Perspective on Successful Aging, The Gerontologist, Volume 55, Issue 1, 1 February 2015, Pages 144–153 [https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/55/1/144/2957454#58792509]

We want to extend a huge thank you for the support of AARP and Champlain College to helping to make this work possible! Thank you!

Momentum Gathering Tuesday Nov 13th

on Wednesday, 07 November 2018.

Momentum Gathering Tuesday Nov 13th

Momentum is a network of LGBTQ+ folks who want to ensure that Vermont is a vibrant, diverse, fun community for adults over 40.

This month we'll be sharing pizza and talk aout future programming for Momentum and PCVT!

FMI email greg@pridecentervt.org

Facebook Event

Help us make Women's Game Night Better!

on Wednesday, 07 November 2018. Posted in Events

Help us make Women's Game Night Better!

Help us make Women's Game Night Better! Take a moment to fill out a brief feedback survey: https://goo.gl/forms/C4J6VXMPztJCGaDC3

Are you tired of fighting everyone at the table to claim the prestigious title of GAME NIGHT CHAMPION? Don't like beating your friends? Then Co-Op (Cooperative) board games are for you! No, we won't play them at City Market (different Co-Op!). These games are designed so that players work together to beat the game, instead of each other and they are a TON of fun to play! I will bring a couple of choices (Pandemic or Forbidden Island), but you can feel free to bring your own as well (especially if someone has a copy of Hanabi!). We will need all the help we can get to emerge victorious from this game night adventure so RSVP and mark that calendar! Hope to see you there!

This event is open and available to all community members who wish to participate. Our Pride Center location is accessible via stairs or elevator. If you have any accessibility questions or concerns, please contact the Pride Center staff at (8020 860-7812 or via email at info@pridecentervt.org.

Tip Tuesday: Self-Care Within Activism

on Thursday, 08 November 2018.


                   With the happenings of this election, constant bombardment by negative news, and blatant attacks on the basic rights of the LGBTQ community, we can clearly see that NOW is the time to get involved and stand up for what we believe in.

However, the process of getting involved with issues can quickly become overwhelming, especially for those who are finding themselves as brand-new activists. This election day, GLAM was graced with the presence of Jabari Jones, a local activist in Vermont on "Tip Tuesday", GLAM's bi-monthly LIVE chat on Facebook, who shared great advice on maintaining Self-Care Within Activism.

Jabari, an avid leader in the Black Lives Matters Movement of Greater Burlington, talked passionately about the many causes that drive him as an advocate. When asked how he chooses what to get involved with and how to prevent from becoming overwhelmed by the many facets of his advocacy work, he quickly detailed that he aims for the "root" causation of all of the issues surrounding him and sees the collective as one, singular fight.

What is that root issue?

"Racism." Jabari replied with confidence.

Jabari then left us with this beautiful summary of Self-Care Within Activism: Jabari

Check out the full video on GLAM's Facebook here

Watch for more "Tip Tuesday" LIVE chats on GLAM's Facebook the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month!

National Coming Out Day 2018

on Thursday, 11 October 2018.

By Johnny Chagnon

National Coming Out Day 2018

Today marks the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, which celebrates the power of being able to openly and boldly proclaim our identity as an LGBTQ+ individual. For many of us, being able to comfortably live with the freedom to be and love ourselves for who we are is a vital step in becoming whole and healthy. Since the first NCOD in 1988, we have seen significant changes in the atmosphere surrounding individuality and some subcultures, which allows most of us a much easier path to follow once we come out.

While it is important to celebrate the successes we have accomplished in 30 years, it is equally important to acknowledge the disparities that still affect us. Privilege exists sparingly within the LGBTQ+ community, and issues that affect the general population such as racism, transphobia, bisexual erasure, HIV stigma, misogyny and more absolutely infiltrate every corner of our own community. If we are to be a family of LGBTQ+ people, we only succeed in getting better if we all advance together.

Stand up and proudly proclaim who you are. Take that first step to explore your feelings and your options. Reach out and find people you can relate to and may find support in. Step away from toxic people in your life and lean on those who lift you up. If you see someone who needs support, approach them and offer a hand. Educate yourself on issues that affect not only your own self, but those around us.

What will you do this “Coming Out” Day?


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

on Monday, 01 October 2018.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.

Cancer is a major health problem that affects the well-being and survival of the U.S. population. One in four deaths in the United States is due to cancer, and the lifetime probability of being diagnosed with an invasive cancer is 44% for men and 38% for women. Because of the rapidly aging population, cancer incidence is expected to rise by 45% to 2.3 million new diagnoses per year by 2030. Approximately 75% of U.S. cancer deaths are linked to potentially avoidable lifestyle and environmental factors; thus, emphasis has been placed on primary prevention and early detection of cancer. U.S. federal and nonfederal agencies acknowledge the existence of cancer disparities related to gender, age, race, ethnic origin, income, social class, disability/ability, and geographic location, but little focus and money have been devoted to assessing and understanding differences in the cancer burden associated with sexual orientation and gender identity.

What we do know is that lesbian, gay, and bisexual women have a greater risk of breast cancer than other women. This is not because of their sexual orientation. Rather, it is linked to breast cancer risk factors that tend to be more common among women in our community. For example, LGB women may be more likely to never have children, or have them later in life. Lesbians also tend to have higher rates of obesity and alcohol use. All of these factors increase breast cancer risk.

At this time, data on the risk of breast cancer among transgender people is limited. If you are transgender, talk with a doctor about your breast cancer risk and which screening tests may be right for you. It is important to find a doctor who is sensitive to your needs, and to see a doctor on a regular basis.

At the end of the day, we recommend that if you got ‘em, screen ‘em.

To learn more about our cancer screening access and support, click here.

Josie Leavitt: Cover Story in Seven Days

on Wednesday, 19 September 2018. Posted in Events

Josie Leavitt: Cover Story in Seven Days

Our previous interim Executive Director and Development Director, Josie Leavitt, is featured on the cover of Seven Days for her upcoming comedy showcase: 'So This Happened'.

Excerpt from the Seven Days article below:

In the standup comedy classes she used to teach, Josie Leavitt imparted one key piece of advice to her students. Aside from tips on joke construction and timing, it's her most fundamental nugget of comic wisdom.

"I would tell them that you can have a bad day, and you can have a funny day," she says to Seven Days at the dining room table of her home in Charlotte. "But guess what? They're the same day."

The idea that it's possible, even essential, to find humor in life's most difficult moments is indispensable to the Vermont comedian's own voluminous body of work. Lately, the founder of the Vermont Comedy Divas and self-described "mother hen" of the local comedy scene has put that principle to its greatest test. Those bad, funny days are central to Leavitt's new one-woman show, "So This Happened," which takes place Thursday and Friday, September 20 and 21, at the Flynn MainStage in Burlington.

Early this year, Leavitt, 53, was diagnosed with breast cancer. From the outset, her prognosis was relatively good. The cancerous lump was detected early, before it could metastasize, and was completely removed. Her subsequent treatments, which included several rounds of chemo and radiation, reduced the likelihood of recurrence to minuscule numbers.

"I was lucky," she says.

That's true, perhaps in more ways than one, for a woman who excels at finding hilarity in hard times.

"A lot of my friends are comics," Leavitt says. "And they were like, 'I'm so sorry about the cancer. But fuck you for the material.'"

"I never begrudged her the material," says fellow Comedy Diva Tracie Spencer. "But we all knew she would get some out of it, which I was happy about."

Read the full article here: https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/in-her-new-comedy-show-josie-leavitt-confronts-cancer/Content?oid=20696509

Pride Center is Hiring!

on Friday, 14 September 2018.

Join our Development and Communications Team!

Pride Center is Hiring!




Job Opening

Title: Communications and Development Director
Job Type: P/T Position, (20 hours/week)
Reports To: Executive Director

Pride Center of Vermont is currently seeking a part-time Communications and Development Director to oversee  Outreach, Events, and Fundraising Program. This position will work closely with the Executive Director and Board of Directors. 

Specific Responsibilities.

Strategically plan, evaluate, and improve Pride Center of Vermont’s annual events, fundraising plan, and communications in collaboration with the Executive Director, including:

  • Manage a portion of Pride Center of Vermont’s external communication including social media, blogs, newsletter, press releases, annual report, etc.
  • Oversight of the annual fundraising program, including special events and direct mail solicitations
  • Provide support and supervision to interns/work study students/volunteers in implementing the communications, events, and fundraising program
  • Research, cultivate relationships with, and solicit community resources, including major donors, businesses, corporations, towns, and individuals
  • Work with service groups and businesses to meet in-kind donation needs
  • Provide support for the fundraising activities of the Board of Directors, including serving as co-chair of the Fundraising Committee 
  • Oversight of the donor database and other fundraising resources

The ideal candidate will possess the following:

  • Experience with design and management of social media and other online and print materials
  • Experience in donor solicitation, community fundraising, and events coordination
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Experience in providing supervision is desired
  • Ability to connect with diverse groups within and beyond LGBTQ+ communities

Please send cover letter and resume by September 28th to:

mike@pridecentervt.org (please note “Development Search” in the subject line)

Pride Center of Vermont is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to fostering diversity within its staff. Applications are encouraged from those with diverse backgrounds in regards to race, ethnicity, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, religious creed, medical/physical/mental condition, sexual orientation, veteran status, or age.

Vermont Pride Theater presents Trans Scripts

on Friday, 17 August 2018. Posted in Events

Vermont Pride Theater presents Trans Scripts

Vermont Pride Festival at Chandler presents Paul Lucas’ groundbreaking play Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women at the First Unitarian Universalist Society, 152 Pearl Street. The staged reading, in one act, will be followed by a talkback.

The play was given its world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Scotland) in August 2015. That production featured the real stories of six transgender women in a ballet of colors and emotions. Each story deftly intertwined with the others, the actors baring their souls to present the experiences of the interviewees, as told in the interviewees’ own words. Of a subsequent Boston production, The Boston Herald wrote that this ground-breaking play presents “… a set of deep-rooted stories full of warmth and vulnerability that speaks to anyone en route to discovering their own identity.”

GET TICKETS HERE: https://www.chandler-arts.org/event/vermont-pride-theater-presents-trans-scripts/?instance_id=472

The Herald of Randolph described Vermont Pride Theater’s original production at Chandler last January as “…a stunning event, …celebrating the lives of these brave people who are part of our community….” Again directed by Cher Laston (Williamstown), the Burlington reprise includes Amy Engsholmen (Albany), Lily Fernald (Falmouth, ME), Elena Littlebug (Burlington), Susan Loynd (Fayston), Toni Maviki (Danbury, NH), Jeff Tolbert (Randolph), and Kim Ward (Montpelier),

For Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women Mr. Lucas conducted nearly four years of research, interviewing over 75 people of transgender experience. About the text to be featured in Burlington, he wrote: “Each of the [now] seven characters’ parts – with the exceptions of three or four monologues – is directly drawn from a single trans woman’s story and experience. However, choices about which stories to include were often influenced by patterns that surfaced persistently. If several interview subjects related a certain experience, I made an effort to include that experience in the text.” Mr. Lucas has now embarked on a similar multi-year interview project with trans men.

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