Salisbury Pride to host educational forum on transgender community

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 1, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

SALISBURY — Salisbury Pride will be hosting a forum to debunk myths and inform the community about transgender people.

The Trans Conversations: An Educational Forum event will take place at the Salisbury Business Center at 301 S. Main St. at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Salisbury Pride is an organization that works to build “safe inclusive communities,” according to its website.

Tamara Sheffield, president of the organization, said the event is open to the community, and leaders in the city, educational system, colleges and faith organizations are invited.

The Rev. Margaret Almeida, pastor at Second Presbyterian Church, will be the moderator.

Panelists include Connie Vetter a lawyer with a focus on LGBTQ issues; Adam Plant, a recent graduate of Wake Forest University School of Divinity; Kassandra, a latina woman who lives in North Carolina; Erica Lachowitz, a business woman who works in the finance industry; Mac McLaughlin, an activist and professional dog groomer; and Jamie Monroe, a Salisbury native, Salisbury Pride Board member, entertainer and activist.

Sheffield said there are transmen, transwomen and allies on the panel.

The idea for the panel came from a controversial new North Carolina law that has gained national attention, especially over the part of the bill that states that people have to use the restroom that matches their biological sex.

Sheffield said the panel is not a debate on the law or a forum to change anyone’s mindsets. She said it is purely an educational forum.

“Even open-minded people are suddenly afraid of something they might not be aware of or might not have all the facts,” she said.

There will be a set of predetermined questions that the moderator will ask all or individual panelists. Sheffield said she hopes to debunk misconceptions about transgender people and introduce people to the community that they may have never met otherwise.

“A lot of people might not think they know a trans person. We’re just trying to put a human face (on the subject),” she said.

Audience members will be able to ask questions at the end of the discussion. Any questions not answered will be researched and answered on Salisbury Pride’s Facebook page and website.

Sheffield also said she is gathering educational resources and information that audience members can take with them to learn more about different issues and subject matter.

Sheffield stressed that the forum is not a debate or an attempt at convincing anyone to change their views. She said the group just wanted to provide an educational opportunity to the public.

For more information, visit the Salisbury Pride Facebook page or its website, .

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.