Gwynevere River Song Becomes 17th Trans Person Murdered in 2017

A bittersweet shadow of victory was cast of over Texas’s trans community. News spread early that Texas legislature abruptly ended its special session late Tuesday without passing a bill regulating the use of bathrooms by transgender people, a setback for Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who had called the 30-day session in large part to enact such a law. The victory was over casted by the weekend death of a 26 year old trans person in a Dallas suburb.

Just past 5 pm on Saturday, August 12, Gwynevere became the 17th transgender individual in the United States to be murdered in 2017. They were shot by someone in their home. Gwynevere died at home after an argument escalated into violence Saturday afternoon, reports the Daily Light, a local paper. Song was pronounced dead at the scene². The other person was transported to the hospital. Early details at this link, but note that they are misgendered and dead named by the media here. In fact, the media even misspelled their family surname. The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate.

Song was a 2015 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

Marcy Mosher, who identified herself as Song’s mother, announced on the victim’s Facebook page that services will be held on Monday, Aug 21 at the Wayne Boze Funeral Home, at 1826 US-287 Business in Waxahachie.

“I love you so much, you are missed so much I can’t figure out how I’m going to go on,” Mosher wrote. “I promise you I will carry out your wishes.”

Trans Pride Initiative, a Dallas-based advocacy group, reported that the community is welcome to attend the services for Song.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs¹, Song is at least the 17th trans person reported killed this year, and the second from Texas. Kenne McFadden was found dead in the San Antonio River on April 9. McFadden’s death has been ruled a homicide.

Transgender people face unprecedented violence, and discrimination. While we denounce the actions of #notourpresident concerning the death of a peaceful protester by a white supremacist, as minority leaders across the country asked for the trans community to stand in solidarity, we also ask those leaders to stand against the continued violence on trans people. Together we can over come hate and bigotry.

Rest in power, Gwynevere. Thank you for the beauty, thoughtfulness and imagination you brought to this world. May we honor your life and death by seeking justice for all our trans family.

The list of trans people killed in 2017

  1. Mesha Caldwell-Mississippi: 41 yrs. old RIP Jan. 4th
  2. Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow: Sioux Falls: 28 yrs. old RIP Jan. 7th
  3. Jojo Striker-Toledo, OH: 23 yrs. old RIP Feb. 8th
  4. Keke Collier-Chicago: 24 yrs. old RIP Feb. 21st
  5. Chyna Gibson-New Orleans: 31 yrs. old RIP Feb. 25th
  6. Ciara McElveen-New Orleans: 26 yrs. old RIP Feb 27th
  7. Jaquarrius Holland (Brown)- Monroe, LA 18 yrs. old RIP Feb. 19th
  8. Alphonza Watson – Baltimore (RIP. March 22), 38 years old
  9. Chay Reed – Miami-Dade ( RIP. April 19), 28 years old
  10. Brenda Bostick-New York City, 59 years old RIP April 25th
  11. Sherrell Faulkner – Charlotte, NC (RIP. May 16), 46 years old
  12. Kenne McFadden – San Antonio (RIP. June 6), 27 years old
  13. Josie Berrios – Ithaca, NY (RIP. June 13), 28 years old
  14. Ava Le’Ray Barrin – Athens, GA (RIP. June 25), 17 years old
  15. Ebony Monroe – Lynchburg, VA (RIP. July 2), 28 years old
  16. Tee Tee Dangerfield – Atlanta, GA (RIP. July 31), 32 years old
  17. Gwynevere River Song – Waxahachie, TX (RIP. August 12), 26 years old

Say their name, read them loud. Hate tried to erase them, but for them we remain trans and proud

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON THE TMP FORUM

 


  1. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program
  2. GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide on reporting on Transgender persons, and reporting of media mis-representation.
  3. TDOR or Transgender Day of Remembrance
Please follow and like us:
0

Fashion Industry Embraces Diversity

By Sabrina Samone

The message is that there is beauty in difference and in the unexpected; indeed there is beauty in what was once considered the opposite. Contrary to what we have witnessed in the past month in American politics; Trump’s Tweets against Transgender people and his most recent support and defense of hate groups like the KKK, and Nazi’s, the fashion industry is the one medium, unlike film and music, that is giving a voice to diversity.

New Zealand Fashion Week is just days away and diversity is the theme. There is a call from big name Kiwi designers for diversity at this year’s model casting calls.¹ “This year we are getting requests from designers like Zambesi and Huffer for diversity, which is amazing,” Andrea Plowright from 62 Models told says. “Many fashion-forward designers want to see models who are Asian, black, Indian, transgender, mature etc., which I think is fantastic! There are no limits and no boundaries, which is wonderful to see and be involved in. We live in a global world and we all want to see equality and fairness.”

”If there is a star of this trend it will be in the form of beautiful transgender model Manahou Mackay, 18, who is picked to light up the catwalk for a number of designers.“  Fashion Week will be her moment to break into the industry big time,” said Plowright. In March, New York-based Australian transgender supermodel Andreja Pejic walked for Smith & Caughey’s in Auckland and left an impression on Mackay. “It was a major modelling moment for me meeting Andreja, she is an inspiration to me in so many ways,” Mackay said. “I’d love to use modelling as a way to travel and see the world. I’d also like to help people view transgender people as just normal. “Transgender is not the classic porn-star Barbie and not the drag-queen look. We’re just normal humans. And we do not need to be sexualized to be understood and accepted.”

Lauri Watt and Manahou MacKay.  New Zealand Fashion Week founder and director Dame Pieter Stewart says, “Long gone are the days where models are typecast to fit a certain, now-outdated standard. They are as unique as the many different designers and their collections showcased at the event. Fashion is about variety and diversity, and New Zealand Fashion Week is the platform that encompasses all of this.” Other models who break the traditional look this year could include Fiona Xu, who has shot for Harman Grubisa and Kate Sylvester; Sophia Frankish, a universal favorite; Lincoln Van Vught; Grace Huan, who is also a dancer; Lauri Watt and Horace Lee.

Recently at a New York Fashion show, Reshma Quereshi. A 19-year-old Indian woman whose vile excuse for a brother-in-law, flung acid in her face two years ago. She bears the scars, and they’re severe (she lost one eye), but she is beautiful, not least because of her strong spirit, and she became the start of the show.

Quereshi’s presence was guaranteed to secure headlines for the Mumbai-based designer Archana Kochhar, as well as help spread awareness about these venal cowardly attacks which happen more often than they should. But it also reflected a growing acceptance, in the Fashion industry and beyond, for a much broader definition of what’s considered beautiful today.

486ad40ff10ed0f95952fd611aea85143c759ef6
Instagram archanakochharofficial

The production company that staged Kochhar’s show, FTL Moda, aims to introduce major diversity to the runway. Last season they cast Brisbane model Madeline Stuart, who has Down syndrome, in her second NYFW show. She looked wonderful.

On the catwalks of the U.K., the tide may slowly be turning on what once was considered taboo in high fashion; women sizes 12 and up.

Model and body positivity campaigner Ashley Graham has debuted her own lingerie range at New York Fashion Week, a collection created for the sizes persistently ignored by designers.

As well as showcasing covetable undies, she brought a much-needed change of pace to the models we usually see on the catwalk. “Every woman in the show has a completely different shape and we wanted to show diversity of shape and ethnicity and that’s what curvy women are,” she told Time Magazine.

pllfwx
Models on the catwalk for London’s Plus Size Fashion Week UK

In recent years there’s been an explosion of transgender models hitting the runways of the world. The struggle, like various occupations in society has been a hard fight, but unlike politics, film and music, the closet doors of the fashion world has been kicked down possibly to the last under-represented group, transgender. Many have reached what was once called super model status; Lea T, Ines-Loan Rau, Valentijn De Hingh, Laith Ashley, Aydian Dowling, and Andreja Pejic to name a few.² The most recent and most diverse among the growing list of transgender models, is plus-size model Shay Neary.

Shay_neary

The inclusive fashion brand Coverstory has made history this year,  by casting the first plus-size transgender model Shay Neary in its latest campaign. Coverstory has a history of showcasing a diverse range of models of various races and sizes, but with this latest casting the brand identified Neary as representing a sector of its customer base that needed to be seen.

When speaking with Refinery29, Neary³ reflected on how difficult it was for her to find a designer to dress her, and the trend of new, diverse models always seeming to be photographed naked.

“Oh my god, the truest statement ever. I’ve done maybe eight to 10 naked shoots. I’m a new trans-plus model to the scene, but I have yet to find any designer willing to actually dress me for a shoot or book me an actual high-profile gig. They’re not willing to get you clothes. They’re not willing to find a designer to get you clothes for a shoot. [Photographers say] ‘We’re not gonna hide your body, we want your raw body.’ Hmm, how about [designing] some clothing for my ‘raw body’?

41C93F2300000578-4641254-Transparency_The_model_has_chosen_to_tell_prospective_dates_earl-a-5_1498567406084

While representation, and equality has been fought in every aspect of trans lives, and careers, it’s the fashion industry that maybe setting the example of answering that call. For years transgender advocates have demanded, along with all minorities and feminist groups, to represent a broader diversity of consumers.  Though representation is far from equal, the fashion industry is leaps and bounds ahead of careers in business, politics, music and film.

This week America was rocked by the tragic death of a peaceful protester in Charlottesville, VA. While America has a conversation on tolerance and equality, the fashion industry may hold a clue to how to achieve that. Visibility, has been the mantra of the modern trans person. Visibility and representation in print, film,  and where we shop does matter. Representation is the constant subliminal message that there are other people like me, yet it’s also a reminder that everyone who isn’t like me, matter and exist as well.

Conversations on equality cannot take place, until we have completed the conversation on equal representation of all colors, sizes, genders, and sexualities. It’s when we can grow up in a society that shows truly, that people are beautiful and matter that we can finally see an end to transphobia, racism and the differences that separate us.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON THE TMP FORUM



  1.  New Zealand Fashion Week is Aug. 28th- Sept. 3 2017
  2. 50 Years of Transgender Models
  3. Refinery 29’s Story of Plus Size Transgender Model, Shay Neary
Please follow and like us:
0

Hawes-Tingey on Her Way to Making History as First Transgender Mayor in Utah

By Sabrina Samone

Sophia Hawes-Tingey appeared to safely advance to the Nov. 7 final election, and one step closer to making history in the small Utah town of Midvale, as the first possible transgender Mayor in conservative Utah.

She was running second among five hopefuls and appearing safe to advance with 24 percent of the vote. Hawes-Tingey trailed a former city council member of the town, who had 30 percent of the vote.

Despite recent tweets to call for a ban on transgender military personnel, Sophia is a US Navy Veteran, who has served her country proudly and desires to continue to do so as Mayor of Midvale, Utah. She’s a software engineer with a passion for advancing diversity and combating discrimination in all forms.

Sophia Hawes-Tingey acknowledges the historic nature of her campaign for city council, but she does not want to make it the focus of her race in this Salt Lake City suburb.

“I see myself mostly as a community servant who just happens to be transgender,” she told her local Fox News affiliate after she filed to run for Midvale’s City Council District 2.

If elected, Hawes-Tingey would be the first openly-transgender person to serve in public office in the state of Utah. Her race does bring increased visibility to Utah’s LGBT community, which has seen big advances within the past couple of years when it comes to same-sex marriage, non-discrimination in housing and employment and several openly gay candidates seeking political office.

When asked about the significance of her candidacy, Hawes-Tingey said she wants to talk to voters about fighting crime, improving neglected neighborhoods and fostering economic growth in Midvale.

“I know to the LGBT community, they see this as a message of hope. But this is a race about community values,” she said.

Hawes-Tingey said being transgender “is only one aspect of who I am.” She pointed to her service on the Midvale Community Council.

“I’m also a software engineer. I’m a Navy veteran, I’ve studied dance for a number of years,” she said. “I don’t define myself only on my gender identity.”

Still, her campaign has attracted the attention of national gay rights groups. She has the backing of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Restore Our Humanity and the Utah Stonewall Democrats.

Hawes-Tingey is challenging incumbent Midvale City Councilman Paul Glover, who is seeking his fourth term in office.

Utah, the home of the staunch conservative Mormon church, has been going through a progressive transition in recent years, with several LGBT politicians, and more vocal advocates. While the town of Midvale is not known for diversity, it is one of the fastest growing suburbs of Salt Lake City, growing 17% since the 2010 census, with an average median income of nearly 54,000 per household. With it’s progressive growth, and the willingness to embrace possibly the first transgender politician in Utah, this could be the first light of progressive change taking root in Utah.

DONATE TO SOPHIA HAWES-TINGEY CAMPAIGN

Currently 7,000 has been raised in support of Hawes-Tingey’s campaign. We’re asking our Friends of TMP to share her story and urge those in your immediate community to give in order to empower transgender politicians, who maybe our only way to fight the fascism we face.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON THE TMP FORUM

Please follow and like us:
0

When Being “Different” Could Mean Death

By Levi van Wyk

With 11 official languages and a variety of cultures, South Africa should be one of the top symbols of diversity in the world. The keyword here, however, is ‘should’. Like any other country, South Africans formed their own political groups advocating for various problems and personal belief systems, which in turn, either made life more difficult, or better for different people. According to the Hate Crimes Report of November 2016, out of 2,130 individuals surveyed, more than 55% of LGBT individuals said they worry about experiencing discrimination, and more than 41% said they knew someone who had been murdered because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Another Hate Crimes Report survey showed that only 56% of residents living in Gauteng, believe that LGBT individuals deserve equal rights. While most South Africans tend to tolerate the LGBT community in public spaces, in reality, we still have good reason to be wary when it comes to our personal safety.

Personally, I haven’t experienced much discrimination in public, apart from strange looks and awkward tension in gender-specific areas, such as the men’s locker room at the gym. I’m a white, asexual, transgender male, and only 5 months into my transition. I’m lucky to have a fairly masculine face and voice which sounds too deep to be female, but also too high-pitched to be male, making it a bit easier for me to pass successfully. In my early transition months, the general public used to address me as “ma’am”, and I had to politely correct them almost every time. They didn’t seem to ever have a problem with it, apologized and carried on as if they deal with a similar situation frequently. The, dare I say, “good” thing about South Africans, is that many people, if not most, don’t even know that transgender individuals exist, and would confuse transgender males with masculine girls or “tomboys”, and transgender females with feminine guys. I personally feel that, while it’s completely wrong and disrespectful, it can be better in regards to momentary safety and getting away with a few stares rather than being violated against. In general, I believe that most South Africans also confuse “transgender” with “transsexual”. While I can’t talk about a lot of problems in regards to the LGBT community in areas made up of a majority of non-white South Africans, I do know that being openly LGBT in said spaces could sometimes lead to abuse or even death.

While I was in my last year of university, various non-white students spoke about the violence and hate crimes against LGBT individuals in their areas of living, and said that it’s still unsafe to be open about your sexuality and gender identity. In areas made up of a majority of white South Africans, you could expect the same, with perhaps more verbal and psychological abuse. In my experience, white South Africans tend to keep their hate and bias to themselves in public, but would speak their minds where they are with like-minded people. A lot of white South Africans are extremely conservative, but they mostly live away from the cities and keep their focus on politics rather than social science. While the differences in culture vary a lot, it’s important to understand why certain people have certain beliefs. Thanks to Apartheid, education for non-white South Africans was lacking, which still has a huge effect on people’s opinions in regards to social science, sex and gender, and LGBT education. White people are generally more privileged, and can use the internet to educate themselves, where poorer non-white communities haven’t been introduced to proper technology yet. That being said, the previously-mentioned lifestyles and cultural beliefs only belong to a number of people in South Africa, and in no way represent entire cultural groups or belief-systems. Today, many, if not most, South African LGBT support groups and events are led by a majority of individuals of color. Different groups are educating as many people as possible, holding conferences, creating events, and offering support to people who might not have it at home. All cultures will have their “rotten apples”, and I personally believe that LGBT individuals should be equally wary of where and when they are open about their sexuality and identity. Cultural beliefs of all South Africans are in the process of being reformed, and people are becoming more open-minded in regards to others’ lifestyles. While we still have a very far way to go regarding the acceptance of LGBT individuals, we’re at least past the point of absolute inequality.

In previous years, many South Africans didn’t get involved in LGBT-related problems. Unfortunately, at the beginning of 2017, I noticed South Africans’ intolerance and rudeness in regards to LGBT rights spiking online. Suddenly, comment sections were flooded with angry comments from a majority of white South Africans, talking about how the LGBT community exists out of sin and doesn’t deserve to be treated as human beings. While South Africans tend to judge in silence, they speak their minds online, especially if they know they will be backed up by others. With the US election results, many conservative South Africans found reason to be outspoken about their outdated opinions. South Africans were indeed reminded of the LGBT community existing all over the world, but it didn’t stop them from picking the community apart, and finding issues to be judgmental about. While a lot of South Africans don’t exactly understand the LGBT community, they still tend to form negative opinions about the different sexualities, especially towards asexuality. As a result of sexual abuse in my previous relationship, I became sex-repulsed and severely asexual. I’ve been told by various people that I just haven’t experienced good sex yet, or that my views on sex will change when I meet someone better. While I understand that they are simply ignorant on the subject, it still reminded me that I live in a sex-obsessed country. South Africa is one of the rape capitals of the world, with an estimated 30 reported rapes every 60 seconds. Rape culture is also a big problem in the country, with high school boys aiming to have sex before the age of 18, and girls making their skirts as short as possible to feel attractive. All of these problems make being asexual extremely difficult, especially since people tend to believe that asexuality stems from the lack of good sex. It’s unfortunate. While a lot of LGBT individuals come together and celebrate their sexuality and identities, I feel like asexuality is probably one of the least represented sexualities in the country.

South Africa still has a very long way to go in regards to people’s different lifestyles. Despite studies showing that the country is becoming more homophobic, I believe that the country is also getting more diverse with more and more LGBT individuals speaking out about their sexualities and identities. Universities are making LGBT-education mandatory, and schools are starting to see more students transitioning and employing LGBT educators. With time, education and support, I believe this country will change for the better.

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


African transgender support groups:
 Gender Dynamix
OUT LGBT Well-Being
PFLAG South Africa
Resources for Trans People and Their Partners SA
Transgender and Intersex Africa


Sources:
Theotherfoundation.org: A study of attitudes towards homosexuality and gender non-conformity in South Africa.

The fear of discrimination is a daily reality for most LGBT South Africans, a groundbreaking new report has revealed

Shocking new stats show that South Africans are becoming MORE homophobic.

 

Please follow and like us:
0

Support Systems Can Be Important To Trans Mental Health

By Sabrina Samone

Before the internet and social media, support groups plaid a huge role in the lives of transgender people. Now many can connect online with others going through similar stories world-wide. There’s video chat, messengers, text and if you are close, a life long friendship can be formed. Yet, trans support groups are still very critical to the emotional and mental health of transgender people, no matter what stage of transition. Unlike a support group headed by a therapist, you are amongst peers without much fear of being analyzed. In fact you may not have to say a word at all and feel the benefits of socializing. Across the globe, no matter what country, nationality, religion; where there’s a large group of transgender people, there’s possibly a support group near you. The double-edged sword is that while we are fortunate with greater trans awareness to be able to reach others of shared interest, the traditional medium of support groups across the country are struggling to continue. That would be unfortunate for our community.

Looking back at how I became aware of being transgender, the support I received, the community spirit that was instilled in me at an early start: I feel very fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve had, unlike my partner who did it completely alone. That isn’t a unique story. There are many transgender people who become aware and make the necessary steps to live their authentic lives without any assistance, emotional support, no family or friends to relate too, and even some without much therapy at all. Though I haven’t seen an actual case study on the matter, and not a psychologist or sociologist myself, I have witness the long-term emotional distress, more intense dysphoria and shame associated with being trans with some that received no support through their entire transition.¹ Luckily for many today there is more acceptance than ten years ago, and more awareness. There are growing numbers of supportive parents of transgender youth, along with the beginnings of media representation that can make us feel just a little less alone. Yet, we hear of those happy stories of supportive families, communities, jobs etc., because they are still rare and unique stories to millions of trans people in medium, and small rural towns across the globe.

I have been humbled and moved by my transgender community.

 

When I look back over the years of my transition, and living my truth; the moments that were the lowest for me were when there was no connection to anyone who understood. In a millennium long, long ago, in a small rural football loving, truck driving, tobacco chewing town in South Carolina, I began to live my truth. The initial thought of such a place to come out may cause immediate anxiety. While it was not a walk in the garden by no means, it wasn’t as bad as first thought. As I said I’ve always been fortunate, most of the time, to have a community. There were those that came before me even in that small town, a few transvestites, that were by my side from the first time I began presenting myself. I had that connection, along with being apart of my local lgbt community. It was in that community that my then best gay friend showed up and introduced me to my first trans sister. I remember that day, and remember not knowing it was even possible that I could ever transition to look like the woman I knew I was. I had no clue what transgender was. All I knew at the time was RuPaul. Yet, suddenly this woman who looked like Vanessa Williams, wearing Kenneth Cole thigh high boots, daisy dukes, a midriff shirt and showing ample cleavage, came prancing in my bedroom. I immediately jumped to attention. This was the first person I had ever seen that was transforming, and developing as themselves. It felt like someone was bringing me the answers to my dreams. Thankfully, she was very supportive and wanted to help, not all girls are and that’s unfortunate. I continue to be lucky, and over time we became close friends. She took me to my first doctors appointment and as I developed pass the boundaries of acceptance for the small town of Hartsville, South Carolina, I took off to trans city USA, Atlanta GA.

It was time to blossom

                         Support This Local Trans Support Group

Atlanta allowed me to blossom in the arms of a very united and supportive local trans community. For the first time I met hundreds like me, and learned about what it means to be trans. What I mean is being trans does not always mean you’re an expert on everything trans. I had a lot of education ahead of me and I still find myself remaining open to learning about my community, and myself to this day. At this point, I was in therapy and had the support of a community of trans sisters. Yet, I was still not part of a formal trans support group, exposing me to a wider diversity of our community. I’m ashamed to admit today, that when I met the first trans guy that wanted to get to know me better, I remember being so afraid and nearly homophobic. I would hide from him in public and complain to my friends, asking why does she think I’m a lesbian. This was ignorant I now know, but I make this point because that ignorance still persists in our community amongst ourselves when we are not exposed to the diversity that could easily be overcome through a local transgender support group.

After three years in Atlanta I unfortunately found myself back in that small rural town, where TS still meant a tropical storm. For the first time I didn’t have support, the transvestite girlfriends I did know there had sadly passed away. I performed as a gender illusionist along with gay men who dressed for performance only, and who would ask me why would I do such a horrible thing to my body. I had changed, developed, but the town was the same. My family would try to persuade me to hide my attributes, wear men clothing again in order to keep the towns folks appeased. At first I had a hard time getting a job, and when I did, they also would ask me to “tone it down”. I had no local support. My friends back in Atlanta could not relate and were little help. I resisted, stood my ground for my truth as long as I could, but several months later pressured by jobs, family, no friends that understood or support group, I gave in. I’m a male to female transgender woman, yet I found myself binding to hide my boobs so know one else would be offended and to please my family. Gone was the hair weave, and I began to grow my own hair which at first was a tiny pony tail. My insurance didn’t cover therapy or any transitional care. I was no longer in therapy. I paid out-of-pocket to get my hormones and could only find one pharmacist willing to fill my prescriptions within a thirty mile radius of me. In the gay community, I was the token trans who was only called upon when money was needed to be raised for local AIDS organizations. The spiral of depression was gradual but devastating. In 2002 it would nearly end my life after my first and last, near succesful suicide attempt that left me unconscious for hours. I had to receive blood to live due to a near fatal loss of blood, along with one month under psychiatric observation. At 25, had I had any wisdom to form a support group, been able to attend one, or have others that understood; things may not have happened as they had.

The meaning of community

DONATE TO HELP C.A.T.S.

When you’ve survived a near fatal suicide attempt, it’s then you decide to live. I had to find a way back to myself and love me for me. With the help of therapy I decided to move for my own sanity. I ended up not far, just three hours south in Charleston SC, but what a difference three hours had made.

In 1999, Olivia (read our story with Olivia)², had created C.A.T.S, Charleston Area Transgender Support Group. Though small at the time I first attended, it would be another learning curve as a transgender woman for me. The trans community of Atlanta I had come from placed the highest value on passability, and trans hierarchy. Many I had encountered did not validate the lives of those that transitioned later in life, or who only dressed on occasions due to non-supportive marriages or family. My time back in my hometown that lead to my depression had changed my views on those that could not always express who they are. I now knew from experience how that felt myself and could relate. Those first meetings, I was often the only trans person of color, but eventually that would change when William, a trans man of color who was married to a trans woman befriended me. Through William, I was educated on trans masculinity and had my first exposure to trans/trans relationships. I met two girls with one that remains a close friend to this day, Jenna, who was the first transgender lesbian I had ever met as well. Again, the circles I had known prior did not include transgender women that didn’t like men, and at first this was a delicate topic for us. I had to come to terms with my own internal homophobia, and be educated that my transness was my gender and not my sexuality. Jenna was the first to help me understand that sexuality varies among trans people, and adds to the beauty of our diversity.

After a year of attending the support group, I had made the close friends I was going to make, and kept in touch with Mrs. Olivia over the years. I would drop in and out over time. As the next few years passed,  the directors and members of the group would change. Mrs. Olivia had left due to illness, some good changes some bad. The most productive were during the time of Amy Garboti and the current director Lee Anne LeLand. During this time the support group would grow from just a dozen older transitioning, white trans women to be more welcoming to trans people color, trans men, non-binary and parents of transgender youth. That dozen grew over time to hundreds in the community, even creating new groups for trans men, non-binary persons and for those younger than 18. This community group that educated me on diversity, has itself become a beacon of diversity for Charleston’s trans community.

The effects on the trans community of South Carolina by this group and it’s network of groups, would be an understatement if I even attempted to try to explain. In the years I’ve been witness to their work, the group has gone from etiquette, make-up and hair classes to real issues that we face. It’s here you will get a list of health care providers, list of friendly businesses, help with name changes and legal documentation and join a network of trans people throughout the area and state. Even among those who no longer attend regularly, there remains a supportive network. They have helped many find work, therapist or simply a friend that understands. Saving countless from the tragic depths of loneliness and depression. I’ve witness people who for the first time presenting themselves, full of fear and anxiety,  become confident and beautiful. It has inspired some to get politically involved and now work in local politics, business and it was at the table of one of those C.A.T.S meetings, that the proposal of me blogging about trans issues was born. That inspiration is now leading to my dream of my own magazine for my community. They have grown, adapted and served the trans community along with other members of the Palmetto Transgender Alliance³, to serve the trans community of South Carolina. Now they need our help.

We should always pay it forward

Save a Support Group

If you follow TMPlanet, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not one to have many ‘about me’ type of blog post. I don’t speak that often of my story, or get too personal. I’m actually shy, and withdrawn despite what many think. This is not about just helping friends. I haven’t been to a meeting probably in a year. After a lot of tribulations personally over the past couple of years, and the development of my dream of this magazine; many have suggested a kickstarter or gofundme. I have shared fund me campaigns on our social media pages for anyone in our community who asked, and I was seriously considering one for TMP until I heard that this local support group that has done so much, needed some love back from the community. Now, this is bigger than TMP, or C.A.T.S or any individual trans person or entity. This is about the countless trans people who still feel alone. This is for those that heart drops to the pits of their stomach,  as they walk out that front door as themselves for the very first time. Those wanting a place where they are welcomed as their true self. This is about keeping a safe place for many in the years to come. This is about being able to meet people who knows what if feels like to be discriminated against, harassed, and also the joys of that first T or E shot.  It’s about the next Sabrina, who as a trans woman of color can come to a place of diversity and be welcomed, and where she herself can learn more about the diversity of her trans community.

This is about love. Love for my sisters and brothers of C.A.T.S and all the trans support groups on the ground that are making a difference in so many trans people’s lives. Will you please consider helping with their expenses, or share this blog post so someone who can will. Also, support your local trans support groups, or start one. Let’s make sure the next generation continues to have a place of love to come and feel safe.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


  1. Trans Mental Health: There can be isolation, hiding and secrets, which can lead to depression and anxiety.  Transgender adults are much more likely to have suicidal thoughts, with 50% of adults reporting some suicidal ideation.  There seem to be two paths that people take early on: either one tries to hide their inner feeling of being the wrong sex and “passes” for what looks like a boy or girl, or one is incapable of hiding and presents as either a tom-boyish girl or a feminine boy.  Either path is fraught with problems for one’s emotional development.  The second scenario – of presenting as gender non-conforming is known to elicit harsh responses from society.  This is true for non-transgender people as well and many gay men and women experience this early on.
  2. Dear Trans Family…Will You Still Love Me When I’m No Longer Young and Beautiful?  Is the story and support of Olivia covered by TransMusePlanet, one of the founders of the first transgender support groups that is still in existence. Charleston Area Transgender Support Group, known as C.A.T.S. still operates today with several splinter groups for transgender men, non-binary and trans youth and most still attend the main meetings which can have an average of 50 attendees.
  3. Under Palmetto Transgender Alliance, the support groups are connected for greater awareness and reach for the states transgender community through their network of support.
Please follow and like us:
0