Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility and More Light Presbyterians celebrates the courage it takes for trans* people to live openly and authentically. This is also a day to celebrate the great diversity of individuals working to make society a welcoming place for people of all gender identities and expressions.
On Sunday people from the trans*, queer and gender non-conforming communities across the nation converged on Chicago for the second annual Trans 100 awards. As co-director Jen Richards said at the event, the awards are not just a way of highlighting the work of 100 trans* people, but “a way of saying we have countless people doing incredible work. We have everyone represented. A trans person who thinks they are alone can look at this list and see something of themselves in it.”
“As the first openly transgender person to lead a mainline Christian organization,” said MLP Executive Director Alex Patchin McNeill, “I am grateful for the Trans 100 list as a way to celebrate the incredible contributions transgender people are making to our world. Many people honored in this list were also ‘firsts’ in their fields, pioneering a path when one didn’t exist. Coming together to celebrate one another helps pave the way for new pioneers to live openly as transgender in our churches, workplaces, athletic fields, and homes.”
The highlight of the evening was the Living Legend Award given to 67-year-old Gloria Allen by Janet Mock. Lovingly known as “Mama Gloria,” Allen has served Chicago’s transgender community for many years and imparts her wisdom, beauty and inspiration to trans* people at the Center on Halsted. “She’s given tools to the next generation that will last a lifetime,” said Center on Halsted Youth Outreach Coordinator Precious Davis.
Here are some other highlights from Sunday’s Trans 100:
“I want to get drunk with the love of the trans community! I’m tired of our community being divided. I want to celebrate all choices because no choice for a trans person is easy.” Angelica Ross, Trans 100 host
“I think the important message is that in the ring, on the field, in the press box, in the locker room, I belong, you belong, we all belong.” ESPN Sports Writer and Editor Christina Kahrl.
“My freshman year of college, I took a human sexuality class and there was a panel of LGBTQXYZ people. There was a trans guy who told a story. That was how I realized that trans existed. I started to research to find other trans people and I discovered YouTube videos. I watched other people transition and, when I watched that, I wanted to do that but I couldn’t. I was a Division One athlete and I couldn’t stop playing to do those things and, in that moment, I was at my lowest.” Kye Allums, the first transgender man to play on a NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball team and the founder of Project I Am Enough.
“When I’m talking to my community, we know what the deal is, we know the struggles that we live with every single day and I guess I want to say the right thing and I want to inspire them. But I also want to challenge my community as well. The stakes are so high. It’s easy to talk about what cisgender people and gay and lesbian people are not doing for the trans community, but it’s hard to talk about what we’re not doing for ourselves and what we need to do within the community to lift ourselves and each other up.” Laverne Cox, activist and actress in Orange Is the New Black.
The Trans 100 award is a powerful way the trans* community is showing the diversity, breadth and depth of their own community. “So often our movement is represented by people outside the community,” Brynn Tannehill said. “I think it’s extraordinarily important for people to see what we can do when we are working for ourselves.”
More Light Presbyterians would like to invite you to celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility by getting to know the Trans 100 over the next few weeks. You can also enjoy Sunday’s Trans 100 event by watching videos and viewing photos of the event available at the Windy City Times.
Kye Allums at Trans 100