While thousands of people head to West Hollywood each year for LA Pride, a more intimate crowd the weekend afterward gathers each year at the Los Angeles LGBT Center since 2008 to celebrate Trans Pride. It’s one of the oldest and largest trans and non binary celebrations in the U.S., this year taking place on June 14 and 15 at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza and the new Anita May Rosenstein Campus.
Trans Pride History
In an exclusive interview with Los Angeles Blade, Gina Bigham, manager of the Trans Lounge & Education Empowerment Programs, Cultural Arts, talked about the history of the festival, which she has been organizing since 2011.
“My vision for this event has always been to take just just one day out of the year where we can put aside the trials and tribulations that our community faces on a daily basis and celebrate the fact that we exist, we are united and that we are alive!” Bigham enthused.
Unlike many Pride events, Trans Pride is proud to keep a very grassroots community feel to our event, noted Bigham. “To that end, EVERYTHING at Trans Pride LA is free to the public. That includes a hot dinner for almost 600 people.”
While 1,800 people are expected to attend Friday evening and all-day Saturday, initially, Trans Pride was a small event that averaged about 300 people. “We rebranded the event from Trans Unity Pride to Trans Pride LA, and expanded the event from one to two days,” said Bigham.
One of the new components they added was a Friday evening kick-off, where notable trans celebrities were brought in for a community forum/Q&A discussion.
“In past years, we have welcomed Laverne Cox, Kate Bornstein, Aydian Dowling, CeCe McDonald among others to our stage. We also added an annual art exhibit, which celebrates trans icons, and a variety show that highlights professional trans entertainers.
Bigham foresees a day when the name, Trans Pride, will be obsolete.
“With the emergence of gender non-conforming and non-binary individuals, I can envision a time in the near future, where the event becomes more about celebrating gender identity in all its wonderful permutations; not just the trans identity but gender (or the lack there of) in general.”
Bigham has arranged many activities to participate in. “The Transgender Law Center will present a name and gender change clinic. We will also have a self-defense workshop led by Juniper McCoy; a clothing swap sponsored by TransTribe Los Angeles; a story time hour for our younger attendees, and a workshop for the parents of trans/GNC children, developed and facilitated by The Center’s LifeWorks youth development and mentoring program.
Additionally, nearly four dozen organizations will participate in a resource fair, to offer information on a wide array of services and programs vital to the trans community.
Saturday evening activities include a Happy Hour event presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka; food trucks, and a VarieTy show starring an amazing array of performers, including host Ezra Michel; singers Our Lady J, (writer on Pose), Alexandra Grey (Transparent), Charlie Peck, Dean Passarella, Ryan Cassata, LZ Love; comedian Pink Foxx, and the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles.
Dr. E. Jaye Johnson has been attending Trans Pride with his fraternity, Alpha Omega Nu. “I love how alive the community is when we come together. We should celebrate our lives as well as memorialize those of us gone too soon.”
Trans shoe designer Nik Kacy will be speaking on the panel, “Non-Binary & Genderqueer: A New Awareness of Gender Identitie,” with fellow genderqueer activists, Addison Rose Vincent, Grey Crouch and Eden Anaï Luna.
Kacy, who is non-binary and queer, believes it is vital for people of any identity to show up to Trans Pride.
“Visibility is key to show that we not only exist but we can thrive as a community. More than ever, we need to be united as human beings to fight the hate and discrimination, as well as transphobia that exists.”
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t even need a Trans Pride or any Pride because there would be no homo/transphobia or hate of any kind, acknowledged Kacy.
All human beings would be treated the same in all aspects and be celebrated together.”
Kacy continued: “But we don’t live in a perfect world yet, and for now I love that we can bring our community together to celebrate those who are here to represent, encourage and inspire those who might not be able to or comfortable to represent. And honor those who had represented, but lost their lives fighting for their right to exist.”
Fellow panelist Crouch stressed the importance of showing up for the community.
“We live in a binary-centered time. From the day-to-day men and women clothing sections, restrooms, checkboxes on a form: we are forced to compromise who we are to navigate the structures around us. As such, non-binary, intersex and two-spirit individuals rarely encounter a space where we can truly share in our experiences with those around us.”
Crouch sees Trans Pride as an opportunity to step outside of binary constructs. “To open ourselves to the truth of possibility, look at ourselves and the people around us and feel seen, heard and most of all: safe. I show up to Trans Pride because even within the trans contingent of LGBTQIAP2-S+, my siblings often feel invisible. The more we show up unapologetically, the more we create space and understanding for who we are and how we matter in our communities.”
Jaxon Cat Williams has been going to Trans Pride since 2017, the year he began transitioning.
“It was the first time I was even aware we had a trans pride, despite being in the LGBTQ community in Weho for 20 years. I was impressed by the quality of speakers and sessions and how friendly and outspoken people were. I went there with one friend but by the time it was over, I had met over 20 new people. I hope that the festival evolves to be larger, with more participation from our own community as well as cisgendered allies.
Williams describes Trans Pride as a “very safe” space.
“You can be free to be yourself, to be open and vulnerable with others; it’s a place where everywhere you look, no one is judging you. That is very rare to come by as a transgender individual. The speakers and sessions are also tailored to the trans communities needs, which is hit or miss in general at LGBTQ events. Everyone is super friendly and looking to bond with like- minded individuals. It’s as if a weight has been lifted off everyone’s shoulders, and the lightness that results is contagious.”
The one thing that bothered Williams about the event is how small it was. “Most of my friends that aren’t transgender aren’t even aware the event exists. I think more needs to be done in the way of advertising and letting allies know they are welcome to come and support,” he said emphatically.
Los Angeles LGBT Center
The Village at Ed Gould Plaza
1125 N. McCadden Place
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Los Angeles LGBT Center
Anita May Rosenstein Campus
1118 N. McCadden Place
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Friday, June 14
Saturday, June 15
Admission to all events is FREE.
To RSVP for Big Queer Convo, visit lalgbtcenter.org/tp19bqc.