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Women’s History Month

All-Star #3: Charlene Arcila

Women’s History Month

All-Star #3: Charlene Arcila

A governor. The world’s first computer programmers. Lawyers, doctors, writers, artists and activists. Philadelphia’s history is full of incredible, history-making women whose stories, unfortunately, are often all but missing from the history books.

It shouldn’t take a dedicated month—Women’s History Month—to recognize the contributions of these heroines. But in honor of the occasion, we scoured history to find several badass Philly women to celebrate for our Women’s History Month All-Stars.

RELATED: A cadre of visionary women are behind Guild House Hotel—a newly opened boutique hotel that celebrates the history residing in our buildings by giving props to the early feminists who initially occupied the property.

03

Charlene Arcila

LGBTQ Activist

Charlene Arcila

LGBTQ Activist

1963-2015

Charlene Arcila came out as a transgender woman as soon as she moved to Philadelphia from Mississippi in 1990.

She worked for the Philadelphia AIDS Consortium for 20 years, during which time she also founded the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference—now the largest conference for transgender and gender-nonconforming people to provide health care and wellness support. It grew every year since its inception with 7,000 people attending in 2017.

Arcila also led the grassroots movement to ban gender markers from SEPTA passses in 2013, arguing them discriminatory against transgender and gender-nonconforming people. She served as treasurer for the William Way LGBT Community Center and as a member of the board of directors for the Mazzoni Center, a health care provider in Philly that serves the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Arcila passed away six years ago, leaving a prominent and lasting legacy on the trans and queer community of Philadelphia.

EDUCATION

  • Provine High School, 1981


ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Founded the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, now known as the Trans-Wellness conference
  • Led the movement to ban gender markers on SEPTA passes
  • Named a 2014 Trans 100 honoree
  • The Mazzoni Center honors Arcila’s work by giving out the Charlene Arcila Pioneer Award at the Trans-Wellness conference each year.


FINAL WORDS:
“The important thing is to feel connected to people or communities beyond yourself. That plays a major role in reducing isolation and helping us get out of our own heads, gives us a framework for coping and provides support when things get tough,” Arcila said of the philosophy that drove her activism.


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