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Transgender flag raised in Reading’s City Park

As a cisgender gay man, Enrique Castro said he will never know the struggles faced by the transgender community.

“But I can always stand firm as an ally,” he said.

Castro, executive director and CEO of Reading Pride Celebration, spoke during a flag raising ceremony held in celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility.

The event Friday in Reading’s City Park was organized by the local organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion within the community.

Begun in 2009 and celebrated annually on March 31, the observation celebrates transgender people and their contributions to society, and raises awareness of the discrimination they face.

“Every day when they wake up and leave their house, it is an act of courage because it is a very painful world,” Castro said. “And we see it every day in our politics, with multiple bills and laws being passed across the country that would target these folks and say publicly, that they are less than.”

Keeb Cruz, a transgender man celebrating the 10th anniversary of his transition, was selected to hoist the flag as a small group of allies looked on.

The flag’s five horizontal bars — two light blue, two pink, and one white in the center — represent the traditional colors for boys and girls with white for those who are transitioning or consider themselves as having a neutral or undefined gender.

City workers raised a duplicate flag outside City Hall earlier in the week, Mayor Eddie Moran said, noting public flag-raising ceremonies were recently moved to City Park out of safety concerns.

Transgender men and women face discrimination every day of their lives, Castro said.

Prior to the flag raising, Councilwoman Melissa Ventura read a proclamation from City Council acknowledging the day of visibility.

Other speakers included Corinne Goodwin, president of Eastern PA Trans Equity Project, a nonprofit serving transgender individuals in 33 Pennsylvania counties, including Berks; state Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz; Mayor Eddie Moran; council President Donna Reed and Councilmen O. Christopher Miller and Jaime Baez.

“As the first LGBT person to be elected to council, I’m very proud to stand here,” Miller said. “I like to tell the community that everybody deserves a seat at the table and in the city of Reading, everyone is welcome. So I’m glad to see the diversity here today.”

Baez’s voice broke with emotion when he explained how he chose to discard the speech he’d written and speak from the heart instead.

As a boy growing up in the Oakbrook section of the city, Baez was bullied for being gay.

“I know what it’s like to be made fun of for being part of the LGBT community,” he said. “So I couldn’t imagine what the transgender community must go through on a daily basis in our country. And so with that being said, I just want to say let’s lead by being resilient. We are resilient and we have been able to overcome many obstacles.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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