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Trans Vermonters reflect on recent anti-trans laws, rhetoric and violence

The outline of the state of the Vermont with a pink, white and blue trans flag in the background.
Matthew Smith
This hour, we're talking to trans Vermonters about local and national incidents of anti-trans laws, rhetoric and violence.

New laws, rhetoric and violence targeting transgender people have been making headlines across the country. In recent weeks, Vermonters have witnessed the killing of a trans woman, vandalism at a leading LGBTQ organization, and Vermont politicians making anti-trans statements. This hour, we're speaking with members of Vermont’s trans community about their experiences and reactions to the news.

Our guests are:

  • Kell Arbor, the director of the health and wellness program at the Pride Center of Vermont in Burlington
  • Elliott Buelter, a clinical social worker and therapist in private practice focused on gender-affirming care and LGBTQ issues

Resources mentioned in the show include the Pride Center of Vermont’s Transgender Program,
Outright Vermont's glossary of terms and definitions, and resources from Brattleboro-based Out in the Open.

Arbor told Vermont Edition that transgender activists want more Vermont legislators to speak out and put forward policies to support the trans community.

Arbor said Gov. Phil Scott did not go far enough in his condemnation of Vermont GOP leaders and their recent anti-trans statements.

"Now is not the time for mediocre rhetoric," they told hold Mikaela Lefrak.

"Now is the time for a strong stance. Vermont could be leading the nation, and in some ways we do. People look at us as the greener pastures, but we still have violence here."

Arbor added that they and other transgender activists in Burlington are planning community-building activities in response to recent events targeting trans Vermonters.

Arbor noted that anti-trans stickers in Burlington's New North End are just one example of hate they want to push back against.

"Showing that solidarity, so that especially our trans youth, that they're just seeing transphobic stickering in the New North End, that they're see so many more messages of love, that they can look away. Look at a message of love," they said.

Advocates are planning a planting day at Starr Farm in the New North End in late May, in part to honor Fern Feather, a transgender woman who was killed April 12.

Feather was known for loving plants and nature.

Broadcast live on Friday, April 29, at noon.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Mikaela Lefrak joined VPR in summer 2021 as co-host and senior producer of 'Vermont Edition'. Prior to that, she was a reporter and host at WAMU in Washington, D.C.
Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he was a producer for television news and NPR member station WGCU for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined VPR in October 2017 as producer of Vermont Edition.