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The coronavirus pandemic shut down most large gatherings this year, including Florida’s largest LGBTQIA+ event – St. Pete Pride.
Months later, its organizers, in partnership with the Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, are holding the Tampa Bay Transgender Film Festival from Friday through Sunday. It is online and free.
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Nathan Bruemmer, the president of St. Pete Pride, said that in addition to keeping people safe from the virus, the virtual film fest will be more accessible.
“There’s so many people in the trans community that don’t have accessibility, that can’t get to St. Pete,” Bruemmer said. “It’s been an issue for Prides for a long time – or it’s not safe to do so.”
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Friday, the first day of the film fest, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance that honors the memory of people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 37 trans or gender nonconforming people have been killed in the U.S. so far in 2020, the majority of which were black and latinx trans women.
That’s just what can be confirmed. Advocates generally believe the numbers to be much higher.
It’s the deadliest year on record since HRC began tracking these murders in 2013.
Anti-trans attacks in the U.S. have become so prevalent that last year, the American Medical Association called it an “epidemic of violence against the transgender community.”
Calls for LGBT groups to be more trans-inclusive
When Bruemmer joined the St. Pete Pride board in 2017, it was with the caveat that the organization had to do more intentional outreach and programming for the transgender and nonbinary community – something even LGBTQIA+ organizations tend to lack.
“I love my community. But I know we got to challenge our LGBTQ organizations to do better. So that year, I founded the Trans Pride March. I didn’t know what to expect. The day of, I didn’t know if anybody was going to show up, which is kind of how I feel about this.”
But that march grew to more than 2,000 participants, Bruemmer said, and he has high hopes the film fest will grow year after year, too.
All 5 films will be launched with full access on Friday at noon. Films will be available to watch in any order, or even individually, but the organizers have a recommended order.
“I hope they have an experience that brings something into their life that wasn’t there before,” Bruemmer said. “So if that’s knowledge, or a sense of belonging, or community or a better understanding, empathy – any of those things would be great.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Mayor, in a video posted on the film fest website, said he hopes the films ”promote the visibility of transgender and gender variant people, and challenge the mainstream media’s negative stereotypes of these communities.”