Powerful Stories and Recognition of a Community Leader Highlight Trans Pride in LA
By Dolores Quintana
The Los Angeles LGBT Center held its first-ever Trans Town Hall at the Renberg Theatre in the Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza. The event marked the start of Trans Pride LA (TPLA), a two-day celebration dedicated to the trans and nonbinary community. Angel City FC proudly presented TPLA, while the Trans Town Hall was curated and hosted by Raquel Willis, an activist, and author of the forthcoming book, “The Risk It Took to Bloom.”
As the evening program began, Raquel Willis expressed gratitude to those fighting for trans liberation in the face of unjust circumstances. She highlighted the over 500 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation this year, with many targeting transgender individuals. She affirmed, “We’re going to say f— no to all of that. They seek to take us away from our families, criminalize our healthcare, ban our freedom of expression, and ultimately, erase us.”
The Town Hall commenced with a stage blessing by members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, followed by a discussion on the state of drag in the U.S. featuring Kylie Sonique Love, the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. Athletes Chris Mosier and Cecé Telfer engaged in a conversation about the presence of transgender athletes in sports. At the same time, journalist Thomas Page McBee led a discussion on trans visibility in media with Isis King, Trace Lysette, and Laith Ashley.
Journalist Shar Jossell moderated a panel on direct action and advocacy, featuring Trans Wellness Center program manager Mariana Marroquín, Kaleef Starks from the National Institute for LGBTQ+ Intimate Partner Violence, and LGBTQ+ youth trauma specialist Jordan Held. The Trans Town Hall also welcomed Montana State Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the first openly transgender woman elected to the Montana legislature, who faced retaliation from colleagues for opposing a measure banning gender-affirming care for minors.
Kylie Sonique Love said, “It’s okay to be inspired by people for sure, but try and figure out who you are… Create your own recipe for who you are instead of trying to mimic the life of somebody else. You create your own recipe. Find the spice of life that works for you.”
Jordan Held said, “There are so many myths being perpetuated in media right now, specifically around gender-affirming care for minors, and it’s more important than ever that we get our facts right. Because facts and science are what this movement was built on, and there are so many young people who are in desperate need of the facts. Because when it comes to their mental health, we’re talking about life and death.”
Rep. Zooey Zephyr stated, “So much of the legislation we see is designed to instill fear and hopelessness, really trying to make the community feel small and vulnerable. But I know from traveling the country and being in my community that we are anything but small, and we are anything but vulnerable. If we peel back all the layers of stuff going on with the trans community, at the very center of it is love. And you cannot take that away from us.”
During the event, other notable insights were shared by the participants. Chris Mosier spoke about sports being a haven where he could authentically express himself even before understanding his transgender identity. Isis King emphasized the importance of positive representation in media.
The evening concluded with a surprise staff award presentation and a special commendation by Los Angeles City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez to Gina Bigham, program manager of the Center’s Trans* Lounge and longtime organizer of TPLA. Bigham expressed pride in the growth of Trans Pride, stating, “We are immense, and we are abundant.”
The Trans Town Hall served as a platform for advocacy, dialogue, and celebration, underscoring the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s commitment to supporting and empowering the transgender community.