RAGE Celebrates Victory on the First Day Without Gender Stickers

Riders Against Gender Exclusion (RAGE) is pleased to announce that, after a three-year grassroots campaign led by transgender and gender non-conforming Philadelphians and our allies, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) is ceasing the use of gender stickers from all monthly transit passes as of July 1, 2013. RAGE is celebrating with a social media blitz, inviting supporters to use the hashtag #nogenderstickers to share an image of themselves with their new fare cards or share an image of a destroyed fare card created by RAGE member and graphic designer Rachel K. Zall.

 

RAGE began organizing to remove the stickers in 2009. After collecting thousands of signatures on a petition, RAGE members met with SEPTA general manager Joe Casey. At that meeting, Mr. Casey agreed to remove the gender stickers when a new fare system was implemented. However, the project met with delays. RAGE continued to press SEPTA, holding a drag show action at City Hall Station station, collecting stories of discrimination, and disrupting a SEPTA public hearing in order to read their Rider’s Bill of Rights and ask SEPTA officials to sign on to the document. 

 

“Because of our collective efforts, SEPTA has agreed to overturn this discriminatory policy. This decision by SEPTA is so important to transgender riders who daily faced discrimination and risked their own safety just to ride the bus to where they needed to go,” said Max Ray, a founding member of RAGE.

 

SEPTA has required all TransPasses to have a male or female gender sticker on them since the 1980s, originally as an attempt to prevent heterosexual spouses from sharing passes with one another. Unfortunately, this system has long made riding public transit difficult for  riders whose gender expression does not match the sticker on their pass – for instance, transgender men and women who are not living in one gender full-time, and genderqueer people who do not present themselves as distinctly male or female.  Such riders have been harassed by drivers, outed to other riders, putting their personal safety at risk, and have even had legitimate passes confiscated.

 

The removal of the stickers comes as a direct result of pressure from RAGE and activism from the local transgender community.  In addition to public actions, RAGE members also met with local community leaders and City Council members to enlist their support.  In 2012 City Council passed a unanimous resolution in support of the removal of the gender stickers.  Soon after that SEPTA announced that they would discontinue the use of the stickers.  The case for the removal of the gender stickers has also been highlighted by Charlene Arcila, a local trans woman and community advocate who first filed a formal complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations in 2007.

 

“We thank SEPTA for doing the right thing,” continued Max Ray, “this change will be a relief to many of us who have had our safety and dignity compromised.  I’m proud of the tremendous work that the transgender community has put into this project and hope that this win will be a symbol of what we can accomplish together.”

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Most recently, RAGE began a large membership drive. During this drive, RAGE’s official membership swelled to over 400 card-carrying members who committed to working to end the gender sticker policy, to reporting incidents of gender-based harassment and to be a visible allies to transgender riders.

 

“The oppression that transgender people face in our society can make us feel powerless, it can make us feel like victims.  The lesson of this campaign is that we don’t have to wait for other people to change systems for us, we have the power to organize and create the changes ourselves,” said Nico Amador, founding member of RAGE.

 

 

Posted in trans rights

We’re winning! SEPTA plans to remove gender stickers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 12 April 2012

Contact: Max Ray – 215-908-8939
Rachel Zall – 781-219-7779

Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Philadelphians Win Historic Victory;
RAGE Announces SEPTA Concedes Gender Stickers Must Go by 2013

PHILADELPHIA – Riders Against Gender Exclusion (RAGE) is pleased to announce that, after a lengthy grassroots campaign by transgender and gender non-conforming Philadelphians and our allies, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) plans to remove the gender stickers from all monthly transit passes by 2013. A fare policy proposal will be submitted to SEPTA’s board of directors that includes this change beginning in the second half of 2013.

RAGE began organizing to remove the stickers in 2009. After collecting thousands of signatures on a petition, RAGE members met with SEPTA general manager Joe Casey. At that meeting, Mr. Casey agreed to remove the gender stickers when the new fare system was implemented. However, the project has met with delays, and though the new fare collection methods are planned to begin in 2014, the difficulties facing the transgender community have continued.

RAGE continued to press SEPTA, by holding a drag show in a SEPTA station, collecting stories of discrimination, and disrupting a SEPTA public hearing in order to read their Rider’s Bill of Rights and ask SEPTA officials to sign on to the document.

“Because of our collective efforts, SEPTA has agreed to overturn this discriminatory policy. This decision by SEPTA is so important to transgender riders who daily faced discrimination and risked their own safety just to ride the bus to where they need to go,” said Max Ray, a RAGE founding member.

SEPTA has required all TransPasses to have a male or female gender sticker on them since the 1980’s, as an attempt to prevent heterosexual spouses from sharing passes with one another. Unfortunately, this system has long made riding public transit difficult for transgender and gender non-conforming riders in the Philadelphia area.

Riders whose gender expression does not match the sticker on their pass – for instance, transsexual men and women who are not living in one gender full-time, and genderqueer people who do not present themselves as distinctly male or female – have been harassed by drivers, outed as transgender to other riders putting their personal safety at risk, and have even had legitimate passes confiscated.

As a result of discussions with RAGE and significant activism from the local transgender community, in addition to letters and e-mails from transgender people and allies around the world, Mr. Casey has at last agreed to submit a proposal to the board of directors asking for the gender stickers to be removed from all passes in late 2013, the soonest date the policy can be changed.

“We thank SEPTA for doing the right thing,” continued Max Ray. “New fare system delays may be unavoidable, but SEPTA realized that human rights can’t wait. I’m proud of the tremendous amount of work that the transgender community has put into this project and all we’ve accomplished during this campaign.”

RAGE has worked with supportive members of the Philadelphia City Council to marshal support from the city for ending the gender sticker policy. As a result of RAGE members’ lobbying, City Council recently passed a resolution spearheaded by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown calling on SEPTA to end the gender sticker policy.

Most recently, RAGE began a large membership drive, including a direct invitation to Joe Casey himself to become a member of RAGE. During this drive, RAGE’s official membership swelled to over 400 card-carrying members who have committed to working to end the gender sticker policy, to reporting incidents of gender-based harassment and to be a visible ally to transgender riders.

Because SEPTA’s fares are tariffed, fare policy changes such as removing gender stickers from passes require SEPTA to hold public hearings. These hearings, which were outlined in a letter sent to Max Ray by Joe Casey on April 11th, are planned for Spring 2013. SEPTA expects that the gender stickers will be removed during the second half of 2013. RAGE eagerly awaits this much-needed policy change, and intends to participate in the process to ensure that removing the gender stickers is a part of the final fare policy passed by the SEPTA board next spring.

“The oppression that transgender people face in our society can make us feel powerless, it can make us feel like victims.  We hope that this victory can be a symbol for other trans people that we don’t have to wait for other people to change systems for us, we have the power to organize and create the changes ourselves,” said Nico Amador, founding member of RAGE.

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RAGE (Riders Against Gender Exclusion) is an all-volunteer organization, led by people impacted by transphobia and gender-based discrimination. We see ourselves as part of a movement for gender justice that is led by transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people standing up to demand respect, dignity and equality.

RAGE was founded to address SEPTA’s policy of using Male/Female gender stickers on weekly/monthly passes because of the instances of discrimination and the threat to safety this cases transgender and gender non-conforming riders.

 

UPDATED 9pm ET 4/12/12 – Changed the date SEPTA will remove gender stickers from 2015 to 2013. Sorry for the typo!

Posted in trans rights | 2 Comments

Get on the Bus: Join RAGE to Ride with Respect

RAGE's "Ride with Respect" bus

Our giant Ride with Respect bus crafted at Spiral Q Puppets is still at the shop but will soon roll out to an event near you

OPERATION RIDE WITH RESPECT is a bold membership campaign to get 3,000 SEPTA riders to pledge their support to end the M/F gender sticker policy, to watch out for the safety of other riders on SEPTA and report any incidents that occur because of the M/F gender stickers.

Operation Ride with Respect is led by Philly RAGE, an all-volunteer organization led by people impacted by transphobia and gender-based discrimination.  We believe that all riders have the right to respect, dignity and safety.  Our objectives are to:

  • Build a large base of riders who are willing to take action to get SEPTA to change the M/F gender sticker policy.
  • Engage our elected officials in advocating for a change in the gender sticker policy by demonstrating the number of people who care about this issue.
  • Encourage more people to intervene in instances of transphobic or gender-based discrimination or harassment, creating a safer public transit system for all.

The vehicle for our campaign is our new Ride with Respect bus, we will take our bus to our actions against SEPTA officials, to SEPTA board meetings, to visit elected officials, and to events and public spaces where we want to meet new members.  The Ride with Respect bus is a symbol of what we want for all SEPTA riders, a public transportation system, free of gender stickers, that is safe for all riders and treats people with the respect they deserve.

In the coming months, the Ride with Respect Bus will be taking us the following places:

  • Campaign Launch and Action at SEPTA offices
  • Community workshop on How to Meet with Your Elected Officials
  • Trans Lobby Day in Harrisburg
  • Action at SEPTA Board Meeting
  • Philadelphia Trans March

And more!

To join Operation Ride with Respect, become a member and look for upcoming events on our website: phillyrage.org

Posted in trans rights

Campus Progress publishes insightful article about RAGE

Campus Progress is part of the Washington D.C. think tank, the Center for American Progress. RAGE’s story of taking action locally against gender-based discrimination in the larger context of violence against trans people inspired them to write this article.

If the article inspires you (and I think it will), then you can support RAGE by Liking it on Facebook and sharing it with friends. The more popular it is, the more people will see what’s going on in Philadelphia.

Posted in local media, philadelphia, septa, trans rights

RAGE Member Nico Amador has a great interview in the Philly Magazine!

My favorite quote: “Trans people are not the only people who are impacted by this policies, there are many other people who are choosing to express themselves and their gender in a way that doesn’t fit traditional norms and that’s a beautiful, liberating thing. I just hope that we’re able to make space for that in our society.”

Read the whole story: http://blogs.phillymag.com/gphilly/2011/06/01/septas-transgender-debate/

Posted in trans rights

Most Candidates Seeking Democratic Nominations Support RAGE

Our allies at the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club asked them their thoughts on the gender stickers issue, and nearly every candidate was actively in support of removing them before the new fare system goes into place. Here is a compilation of all responses about the gender sticker issue: Liberty City Questionnaire Responses

Posted in trans rights

Share RAGE’s Bill of Rights with friends, family, and… political candidates

RAGE Rider’s Bill of Rights is now available RAGE Rider’s Bill of Rights for your printing, viewing, and signing pleasure. If you collect signatures, email nogenderstickers[at]gmail[dot]com to have them added to the official document.

Posted in trans rights | Tagged