In a way, this year’s Pride month feels a whole heck of a lot more like it did in the old days—when there wasn’t an overabundance of corporate sponsorship or fashionable rainbow gear, and demonstrations were the name of the game. Cities around the country are shifting their Pride 2020 events to throw support behind the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of a renewed national focus on racism and police brutality. Houston’s own LGBTQ+ community is no exception; Pride Houston, the organizers of the Bayou City’s annual Pride celebration, have foregone its annual parade and are instead hosting an equality march and rally on June 27.
As we turn our focus to solidarity, some of those in the LGBTQ+ community most in need of support are Houston’s trans communities of color. “Black queer and trans communities face an amplification of the issues faced by the larger Black Community with added unique challenges and increased levels of discrimination,” says Jayla Sylvester, a trans woman of color and board member of Houston trans safe-space creator Save Our Sisters United.
And remember, we owe them our support, adds Verniss McFarland, founder and CEO of local trans-led community organization The Mahogany Project. “Pride would not be a season that we celebrate if it wasn't for a Black trans woman [Marsha P. Johnson] throwing a brick.”
Here are five Bayou City LGBTQ+ organizations you can support to spread the love for Houston’s transgender communities of color.
Founded by Atlantis Narcisse, a Black transgender woman and native Houstonian, Save Our Sister United is a collective dedicated to providing opportunity and empowerment to Houston’s trans communities of color. Programs include legal clinics to assist with name and gender marker changes on government documents, support groups, and financial assistance to trans POC facing the challenges of COVID-19. In addition to these services, SOSU values collaboration with other local organizations to combat discrimination and expand the conversation.
This organization, which seeks to reduce the social stigmas and injustices Houston’s TGNC (transgender and gender non-conforming) communities of color face, was established in 2017 after the death of Chyna Gibson, a Black transgender woman and beloved drag performer.
Among the organization’s extensive programming is its annual Black Trans Empowerment Week, a week in November dedicated to celebrating the life, legacy, and love of Black Trans people. Other community services include free contraception and trans-inclusive sex education at local universities, peer support groups, self-defense classes, and voter suppression awareness info sessions. As one of the groups constantly providing essential resources to Houston’s trans communities, The Mahogany Project is always in the market for donations and also welcomes volunteers.
Since 2011, the T.R.U.T.H. Project has been using the social arts that promote mental, emotional, and sexual health to educate and mobilize LGBTQ+ communities of color and their allies. With a focus on youth voices in particular, the organization’s programming includes youth-led art shows, as well as poetry readings and dance performances. The T.R.U.T.H. project is currently partnering with The Mahogany Project for a virtual voter suppression awareness campaign called My Sibling’s Keeper that seeks to discuss the transgender experience in voting.
Navigating the legal system is tricky enough, but it’s even more complicated for trans gender individuals who face significant barriers and discrimination in the court room. TLACH provides pro-bono legal assistance to transgender and non-binary individuals seeking to update their legal documents by offering informational clinics, which are currently being held virtually due to COVID-19. To inquire about volunteering or donating supplies, email [email protected]
Founded in 1998 in Houston to improve the quality of life for its local trans communities, this grassroots non-profit works to remove barriers to essential resources by offering homeless services, free therapy and counseling, and by spreading awareness of the trans experience. TFA’s various advocacy committees include the Houston Transgender Unity Committee, which organizes Houston’s annual Unity Banquet and events honoring Transgender Day of Remembrance. TFA currently needs monetary donations to support its Trans Disaster Relief Fund—initially created in response to Hurricane Harvey but now working to support trans and queer individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And the organization’s always seeking volunteers.