News centered on the trans community is often dominated by such trends, but across the country, grassroots nonprofit groups led by transgender people are creating spaces for their communities to find safety and joy.
Transgender Day of Visibility on Thursday is an annual awareness day dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of transgender people while still acknowledging the violence and discrimination they continue to face. Here are 11 grassroots groups that do just that by providing their communities with home-cooked meals, health care, space for creativity and other services.
bklyn boihood — Brooklyn, New York
bklyn boihood started as “a vision and space for masculine of center people of color to feel seen,” Van Bailey, a member of the group, said in an email. “Our mission is to create spaces where black, brown, queer and trans bois* can cultivate stories, dreams and creative work.”
The group has created spaces for safer gatherings and parties, storytelling, intergenerational connections, fashion, body movement work and reconnecting with nature. Bailey said the organization is excited to partner with groups like NYC Pride this year to provide a social space for Pride season.
Youth Empowerment Performance Project — Chicago
Bonsai Bermúdez, the executive and artistic director of the Youth Empowerment Performance Project, said the group’s goal is to end LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago “and beyond!”
The project supports LGBTQ youths experiencing homelessness by connecting them with resources such as housing, employment, education, health care and other basic needs. It strives to create a “brave environment” that allows the youths “to explore their history, investigate new ways to address their struggles and to celebrate their strengths through personal, leadership and community development programming that incorporate different art-expression forms,” Bermúdez said in an email.
The Knights and Orchids Society — Selma, Alabama
“Black trans gender non conforming people have been systematically denied access to the resources needed to survive and thrive so The Knights and Orchids Society strives to build the power of these individuals by providing a spectrum of health and wellness services to them across the South,” Christina Nicholson, the group’s communications director, said in an email.
She added that the organization is looking forward to expanding its food and nutrition program through its newly developed Black Sheep Farm and Innovation Center: “This program is dedicated to increasing our clients’ access to nutritious food by maintaining a community garden that teaches youth and other community members farming techniques that can be used in rural or urban settings and operating a food bank stocked with purchased food goods (including meat, milk, eggs, and perishable goods) and produce harvested from our community garden.”
Transgender Education Network of Texas — Austin, Texas
The Transgender Education Network of Texas, or TENT, is the largest policy organization in the state led by trans people of color, said Gin Pham, the group’s communications and outreach manager. TENT provides gender-inclusive training for state leaders and engages in policy advocacy.
“This year, regardless of attacks on trans and gender expansive communities, we will continue to work to deepen our network and provide our communities with the relevant and accurate resources and information throughout the state of Texas,” Pham said in an emailed statement.
Transgender Day of Visibility, Pham added, “means different things to the different members of our community, as we all have our own personal relationships with being visible, but at the heart of it, it’s a celebration of one another.”
The Okra Project — Brooklyn, New York
The Okra Project is a mutual aid organization that provides home-cooked meals to Black trans people in New York City, Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey.
“There is a special place that The Okra Project sits in — the mission to invest in the manifestation of the most incredible life a Black Trans or Gender Expansive person can dream of,” Dominique Morgan, the group’s executive director, said in an email. “The approach can be diverse: eliminating food insecurity, naming and addressing health disparities, whole person health or maybe just a space to dance and feel free — it’s all about manifesting a life for Black Trans and Gender Expansive people filled with joy and radical liberation.”
Phoenix Transition Program — Atlanta
Lupa Brandt and her husband, Jamil-Jack Abreu, founded the Phoenix Transition Program in June 2020 to provide services and support to trans people across the country, although they focus primarily on supporting transmasculine people, who Brandt said are often overlooked.
The group provides free chest binders to transmasculine people nationwide and Thanksgiving meals to those who need them.
It also helps trans people start businesses by paying for their websites and state registrations, and it supports those who have recently been incarcerated.
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“We’re just trying to adapt and continue to keep our community safe and free and housed and fed,” Brandt said.
Baltimore Safe Haven
Baltimore Safe Haven provides at-risk trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex and asexual people in Baltimore “with opportunities to transform their lives,” said Iya Dammons, the organization’s founder and executive director.
The Black trans-led LGBTQ organization provides low-barrier shelter to those experiencing homelessness, transitional housing, middle-age housing and senior housing. It also provides social services, such as HIV testing, access to food and clothing pantries and a drop-in center with daytime and nighttime outreach.
“The accumulation of those allows us to see a broad amount of community members who are not just TLGBQ, but also everyone who crosses our threshold,” said Ja’Nae Tyler, the director of operations.
Alianza Translatinx — Orange County, California
Alianza Translatinx, the first and only trans-led organization in Orange County, “has become a community cornerstone” for trans and gender-nonconforming people living in the largely conservative area, Khloe Rios-Wyatt, the group’s president and CEO, said in an email.
“Through education, community empowerment and social justice, Alianza Translatinx uplifts the TGNC community to eradicate stigma and hate against TGNC people, while at the same time fulfilling our mission to protect, defend and advocate for the needs and the rights of the TGNC community, especially people of color,” Rios-Wyatt said, using an initialism for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
The [email protected] Coalition — Los Angeles
The [email protected] Coalition was founded in 2009 by a group of transgender, gender-nonconforming and intersex immigrant women in Los Angeles. The group provides legal services such as name and gender-marker changes, re-entry assistance for people in detention centers and jails, anti-violence response, HIV-prevention services, transitional and emergency housing, clothing and free daily lunches.
“The mission of The [email protected] Coalition (TLC) is to advocate for the specific needs of the Trans [email protected] community that resides in the U.S.A. and to plan strategies that improve our quality of life,” Steve Landaverde, one of the group’s directors, said in an email.
Intransitive — Little Rock, Arkansas
Intransitive is a trans migrant-led organization in Arkansas that supports the trans community through advocacy, organizing, art, education and culture, said Rumba Yambú, the group’s director.
“At the end of last year we opened the first Trans Community Center in Arkansas, and this year we’ll spend it creating spaces for Trans joy, supporting Trans youth, and growing and building with Trans Arkansans,” Yambú said in an email.
The group was closely involved in advocating against anti-trans legislation in the state, which was the first to ban certain gender-affirming medical care procedures for minors last year. A judge blocked the law from taking effect in July.
Transinclusive Group — Wilton Manors, Florida
Transinclusive Group is a trans-led group with a special focus on racial justice, accessibility and ensuring that social, political and economic systems treat LGBTQ people equally.
“We envision a community where all Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer+ individuals can achieve their human potential equally and equitably through education, healthy lives, and financial stability, free of stigma and discrimination,” Tatiana Williams, the group’s co-founder and executive director, said in an email. “Our work in community is dedicated to ensuring that trans joy, wellness, and opportunity are not out of reach for any of our siblings.”
Transinclusive Group’s region of focus is South Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.