“We’re Talking about Life and Death”: Trans Town Hall Draws Hundreds for a Night of Activism, Celebration
LOS ANGELES, June 17 — Last night, the Los Angeles LGBT Center hosted the inaugural Trans Town Hall at the Renberg Theatre in Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza. The event kicked off the two-day Trans Pride LA (TPLA), an annual celebration of the trans and nonbinary community. TPLA is proudly presented by Angel City FC.
The Trans Town Hall was curated and hosted by Raquel Willis, the activist and author of the forthcoming book, The Risk It Took to Bloom.
“I want to thank the folks all over who are fighting for trans liberation in the face of senseless injustice,” said Raquel Willis as she opened the program for the evening. “There are over 500 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation on the books this year, most of them targeting trans folks. They seek to take us away from our families, criminalize our healthcare, ban our freedom of expression, and ultimately, erase us. We’re going to say f— no to all of that.”
The Town Hall kicked off with a blessing of the stage by members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, followed by a conversation about the state of drag in the U.S. with RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars winner Kylie Sonique Love. Athletes Chris Mosier and Cecé Telfer sat down for a conversation about trans athletes in sports, and journalist Thomas Page McBee led a conversation about trans visibility in media with Isis King, Trace Lysette, and Laith Ashley.
Then, journalist Shar Jossell moderated a panel about direct action and advocacy with 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 then welcomed Montana State Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the first out trans woman elected to Montana legislature who was retaliated against by her colleagues for opposing a measure banning gender-affirming care for minors.
Below, find highlights from the stage program and photos for consideration.
Kylie Sonique Love on her advice to young performers:
“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.”
Chris Mosier on what drew him to athletics early in life:
“When I was a kid, long before I knew that I was trans—long before I had even an understanding of what that word meant—sport was the place where I felt like I could fully show up like myself. As a kid, it was always the place where I found my family, my friends, my community and felt that I didn’t have to be a little girl or little boy, I could just be an athlete.”
Isis King on the importance of visibility in media:
“So many people, they learn how to treat a trans person and interact with trans people through media, through what they see. So if the only examples of trans people you see are them getting bashed or them being outed or them being the butt of the joke, why would you think to treat us any other way?”
Jordan Held on combating false media narratives:
“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 on the importance of love in the face of oppression:
“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.”
The night closed with a surprise staff award presentation and special commendation by Los Angeles City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez to Gina Bigham, program manager of the Center’s Trans* Lounge and the longtime organizer of TPLA.
“The first year of Trans Pride, we were barely a blip on the radar,” Bigham said on stage. “But look at us now. We are immense, and we are abundant.”
Trans Pride LA will continue on Saturday, June 17 at 12 p.m. with the Trans Pride Festival, featuring food, workshops, market and resource vendors, live entertainment, and a family activity area. Workshops include Advocacy 101, Queers Connect by Venus In Aquarius Events, Creación De Espacios Seguros Desde Una Perspectiva Holística (En Español), Resilience Through Art, and a self-defense workshop.
For a full schedule of events, visit https://lalgbtcenter.org/transpride23.
Trans Pride LA 2023 is presented by Angel City FC. Official sponsors of this year’s Trans Pride LA are Comcast NBCUniversal & Telemundo, and YITTY. Supporting sponsors are: ADP®, Greater Los Angeles REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, Happy Hippie Foundation, Kipling, Pacific Western Bank, and Waymo. American Airlines is the Official Airline Partner.
About the Los Angeles LGBT Center
Since 1969 the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. Today the Center’s nearly 800 employees provide services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world, offering programs, services, and global advocacy that span four broad categories: Health, Social Services and Housing, Culture and Education, Leadership and Advocacy. We are an unstoppable force in the fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a better world; a world in which LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal, and complete members of society. Learn more at lalgbtcenter.org.