Your community apologizes, Police Officer GarciaConversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest, Bottom Highlights Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
Commentary: Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest
It is a very difficult life to be transgender … dealing with the reality that you were born in the wrong body. The cold hard facts are that not only do a vast majority of Americans not understand our transgender brothers and sisters, sadly many gays, lesbians and bisexuals do not and many do not have any transgender friends.
It was wonderful and heartwarming to see San Diego Police Officer Christine Garcia win an award at the 41st annual Nicky Community Awards; to see her get a long and loving standing ovation from the sold-out crowd as Ms. Garcia is the first openly transgender police officer in the San Diego Police Department and has gotten involved in her LGBT community.
Four days after being acknowledged by her LGBT community and family, Ms. Garcia was barred from entering The San Diego LGBT Community Center because she was in her police officer’s uniform. In my over 45 years of activism, I have never heard of such an outrageous and disgusting act against one of our own at our community center, period. What makes this worse is all Officer Garcia wanted to do was to attend the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and honor the many transgender Americans who have been killed or committed suicide (involving four transgender teenagers in San Diego alone).
By the way, this annual event is put on by The Center and Officer Garcia was on the planning committee! It seems a few people at the event did not want Ms. Garcia to attend while in uniform (she was on duty).Who made this decision at The Center? It was Sarah Merk-Benitez, The Center’s community programs supervisor and I think she should be fired. And dig this – Ms. Merk-Benitez is a straight woman who barred a transgender woman from entering her very own LGBT center!
According to many, this is not the first time that Ms. Merk-Benitez has been insensitive to LGBT people. She needs to go!
The next day when I heard about this, I immediately called Dr. Delores Jacobs (The Center’s executive director) and she had not even heard about the incident. Before making that call, I got a hold of Officer Garcia and apologized to her and I also called Police Chief Zimmerman and apologized to her.
After much communication with Dr. Jacobs, she rightfully phoned Officer Garcia and the police chief to apologize.
I thank Dr. Jacobs for putting immediately into place a permanent policy that I requested making sure this never happens again. By the way, six days later and counting Ms. Merk-Benitez still has not apologized to Officer Garcia. Is it time to get a petition started to have Ms. Merk-Benitez removed from our Center?
By the way, there is no record of any transgender police officer being asked to take off their uniform in the entire country, or an African American or Latino officer at their own community center.
San Diego Police Officer Christine Garcia deserves an apology from all of us and I encourage you to let her know that we support her and appreciate her as we do all police officers protecting our neighborhoods and communities.
Scott Carlson Community Thanksgiving Dinner
For the last 28 years, The Imperial Court and The Center have been hosting a Thanksgiving Day dinner for those alone, those living with HIV/AIDS, those living with cancer, seniors and the homeless. As many as 600 have shown up, both LGBT and straight families; all are welcome. Also, The Imperial Court takes dinners to local hospitals, youth centers and shelters.
A special thank you to this year’s chairs: Board President Michael Lochner, Emperor Summer Lee and Empress Jaeda Reign and all of the wonderful volunteers. Plus to all of the following who have made this possible a huge thank you: The Rob Benzon Foundation, Benjamin F. Dillingham III, AHF Pharmacy, Hillcrest Pharmacy, San Diego Cruisers MC, The Eagle and Sir Nicholas, San Diego firefighters, Big Mike Phillips, Councilman Todd Gloria, Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins, Emperor Ashtray David, Empress Milo Angel, Tom Urbanski, Tim Maxwell, Rory Chrz, Stephen Boyer, Duncan Stewart, Regina Roberts, Courtney Ray of Harley Gray Restaurant. God bless you all!
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