BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – 2017 pride week kicks off in Buffalo Tuesday with the annual raising of the pride flag in Niagara Square.
This year’s parade is shaping up to be the biggest ever, with about 130 organizations signed up to participate.
But some members of this community say there is more work that needs to be done, in our own city hall.
Its been almost ten years since Camille Hopkins worked at city hall. She is known as the first city hall employee to openly transition.
While Pride Week is a celebration of the growth of the LGBTQ community, Hopkins says its also a reminder that her fight isn’t over yet.
She said, “This is a time warp that I really don’t want to be in, I don’t want any other trans-people to be in.”
Hopkins worked in city hall for almost 20 years. And After she came out as transgender, she says she faced harassment every day. “I felt threatened enough that I brought a baseball bat into my office.”
She says since then, not much has changed. She said there’s still are no guidelines or policy in place for transgender employees. Something she calls an empty promise 15 years in the making. She said, “We are celebrating Pride Week, but I feel politicians are just speaking words without actions.”
Leaders say its true, there is no transgender policy in place now. But Crystal Rodriguez, the newly appointed “Chief Diversity Officer” for the city says change is evident inside this building. She said, “Policies have completely changed. She began her transition under a different administration. Since then, Mayor Brown has made sure if any employee decided they wanted to transition, that they’d feel comfortable, but also would be covered by insurance to be able to make that transition.”
City employees also go through diversity and sensitivity training, so everyone is comfortable there
Rodriguez said, “We certainly have the concerns of any trans-gendered employee that we would have on the table, and we want to make sure our employees and constituents feel welcome at City Hall.”
The policy handbook, is currently in the works. It’s essentially a contract between the City of Buffalo and its employees. But there’s no date set for its completion. Rodriguez noted the Buffalo Public School district has enacted guidelines for transgender students.
If you’re interested in getting involved in Pride Week 2017, you can find more information here.