The Power of Trans Joy: Trot for Trans Lives Raises Over $20,000 in Austin
On May 27, The National Center for Transgender Equality, in partnership with the TRANSContinental Run, hosted two events for the trans community and allies in Texas. We kicked off the day with the Trot for Trans Lives - a 5k run - and the Championing Change panel, which brought activists from across Texas to build power, fight back against those and create a space where we can center and uplift the needs of trans Texans.
The run saw over 350 registered runners, with approximately 100 joining us in Austin and the rest running along with us across the country. Elliot Starr, 15, is a young trans Texan. They told us what attending this event meant to them:
"The Trot was was honestly the highlight of my year. Being surrounded by my community is so important, especially with all the hate we are facing in a state like Texas. Events like these are so so important for awareness about trans rights and bringing our community together and I am so honored to have been able to be a part of it. [The Trot] gave me hope, which is such an essential thing in times like this."
Runners at the Trot for Trans Lives cross a trans pride flag on the streets of Austin, drawn in colorful chalk.
The events were organized to show love and solidarity for trans and intersex people impacted by the record-breaking number of anti-trans legislation introduced this year - especially in Texas. They also served as a fundraiser for several Texas organizations who serve the trans community where we raised $20,500!
In the evening, we hosted our Championing Change panel, where we discussed trans rights in Texas with activists at the Austin Cinemaker Space. Panelists included former wrestler and MMA athlete Mack Begs, Illyana Bocanegra with NCTE, Jaryn Holbrook Janeway with OutYouth, Verniss McFarland with the Mahogany Project, and Sofia Sepulveda with Igualdad Texas.
Alex del Rosario, NCTE national organizer, moderated the panel. "As we go through these moments of hard times, I want to give a shoutout to our community. We are so good at holding each other during these times. Let's continue to help each other," del Rosario said.
From left to right: Alex del Rosario, Illyana Bocanegra, Verniss McFarland, Mack Beggs, Sofia Sepulveda, Kathryn Gonzales, and Cal Dobbs.
Cal Dobbs, whose TRANSContinental Run is connecting trans communities across America, asked our panelists to "share their vision for the liberation of trans and intersex people in Texas and beyond."
That kind of imagination is, itself, an act of resistance. Verniss McFarland, founder and CEO of the Mahogany Project, said that they "imagine quite vividly, in color. And I don't do it lightly, because there's so many black trans people that didn't get to do that. And so I make sure to take that time." With the 2022 opening of its Houston location, he Mahogany Project created the first-ever Black trans resource center in the city. Verniss sees that center growing into "a cultural hub. Not only a physical space, but providing housing, daily programs, meals, safe spaces for our ballroom community. There will be a big, loving space for a community to exist and thrive."
The funds raised from the run and panel will go to Black Trans Leadership of Austin, the Mahogany Project, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the TRANSContinental Run, y la Red de Educación Transgénero de Texas (TENT).
At the end of the day, our young runner, Elliot, put it best. "To my fellow trans kids in Texas remember- they can not take away our joy. We love you, we see you, we support you, and you have the most amazing community fighting for you."
You can still join us across the country at Trots for Trans Lives! Whether you join us virtually or in-person, the funds from your registration go to support trans organizations in that particular city. Click the city and date below for details!