NEWPORT, Del. — Janice Covington is going home, so to speak, to her class reunion, but she’s doing so quite differently than she was when she attended there some 50 years ago.
She decided to go to the the alumni function and shared with her classmates that she left as a man and is returning as a woman.
Since her reveal, she has gotten nothing but support and acceptance, quite different than what she had expected.
Former classmate Candace Wannamaker, Ph.D., B.C.E.T.S., from Philadelphia, Penn., asked Covington to come to Drexel University on Oct. 11 to share her amazing journey and lifetime work as an advocate for equality and LGBT rights. Her topic will be “A Lifetime of Advocacy and Change” and will be shared with participants at the James E. Marks Intercultural Center. She will be part of the university’s National Coming Out Day celebration. The event is sponsored by the Drexel LGBTQA Student Center and Foundation of Undergraduates for Sexual Equality.
Covington was the first transgender woman delegate from North Carolina at the 2012 Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte, N.C. She said that it “changed my life forever. I realized that I had an opportunity and a responsibility to my LGBT community to represent them in the best fashion I could muster.”
She added, “I was not elected by the LGBT community, I was elected by some of the very people who voted to pass Amendment One. I feel that I overcame their fears and ignorance of my community by educating them and as a result they saw past their own bigotry and discrimination of the past and elected me as the person who they got to know.”
Since then, she joined the Mecklenburg County Democratic Women’s Association and the North Carolina Democratic Women’s Association as a full voting member. She hopes that her participation in these two organizations will help to advance the Democratic Party in its perception and work with the LGBT community to further rights for LGBT citizens both statewide and nationally. She was elected as a delegate for the 12th Congressional District for 2013 through her work at the Mecklenburg County Democratic Convention.
Now she is involved with Get-Equal, a LGBT activist organization, as the state organizer working for the passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act which has stalled in each of the years it’s been introduced in Congress since 1994.
She knows that the fight does not come without sacrifice. She learned that the only way to make a difference is to “reach out and conquer your fears.” Covington added, “We must show our nation and state as a community that we are not second-class citizens and that we deserve the same rights with housing, employment and to be able to marry the person we have chosen to love.” She thinks that this can be done by educating the straight community that the LGBT community are positive, viable contributors to society.
“I was honored to have received the Harvey Milk Award during the Charlotte Pride Festival. You, my friends, made me feel it is all worthwhile by hearing your cheers and hugs while I was riding in the Parade. Thank you for the pleasure of being your friend,” she concluded.
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