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Trans Day of Visibility marked in Vegas: ‘You are being your true, authentic self’

Updated March 31, 2024 - 10:49 pm

Jamie Lee Sprague said it was fitting that this year’s International Transgender Day of Visibility was on the same day as Easter.

“When we transition, we resurrect ourselves, who we are,” said Sprague, 61, of Las Vegas. “We become a new being.”

Sprague, a transgender woman, is also a Christian. She is the pastor of the Affirming God’s People United Church of Christ, which is housed in the same downtown building as the Las Vegas TransPride nonprofit organization, of which she is also the founder.

On Sunday, Las Vegas TransPride hosted its third annual local Transgender Day of Visibility event in the parking lot of its Las Vegas TransPride Center on Southwest Ninth Street.

The day was also marked in events around the world and in the United States, where President Joe Biden proclaimed Sunday as Transgender Day of Visibility — the day is recognized internationally on March 31 every year.

At the Las Vegas event, dozens of people attended throughout the afternoon, with speakers and performers taking the stage to reaffirm their commitment to being their true selves and supporting those on their journey toward that, speakers said.

“I am Eva Olivia Chase, a trans woman who has fully transitioned. This is a journey I’m immensely proud of,” shared the 65-year-old to a small but enthusiastic crowd.

Chase, who described herself as a progressive independent Democrat, is running to unseat incumbent Cecelia Gonzalez, also a Democrat, in Nevada State Assembly District 16.

“But I want to acknowledge every one of you,” Chase continued. “I am proud of you because you are being your true, authentic self. You are strong, brave, and committed to your convictions.”

Reign Simone, 45, said that as a gay man, he has continually been supported by members of the trans community throughout his life.

“So it’s only right for me to take care of my trans family,” Simone said.

To Simone, the day of visibility is all about being able to be yourself.

“I think everybody should be able to, no matter who they are, live their truth and enjoy their journey,” Simone said.

Veronica Melton, whose son Giovanni Melton, 14, was shot and killed in 2017 by his father and her ex-husband, Wendell Melton, also spoke.

Melton has alleged that her ex-husband killed the boy because he was gay, though prosecutors did not argue that motive during Wendell Melton’s 2022 trial, which resulted in him being sentenced to life in prison.

Veronica Melton, who works in the healthcare industry, is also the founder and CEO of the Giovanni Melton Foundation. The nonprofit foundation’s mission is to educate communities about her son’s story and prevent bullying and violence against the LGBTQ community, she said.

“I feel like people who are transphobic don’t see them as being human; they don’t see them as someone that should be themselves,” Melton said. “And I think that having the transgender community come out more and be visible with the mainstream society, perhaps then, some of those walls can come down.”

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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