By James Arroyo Miller, WFMN Community Impact Project Manager
The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has been a sponsor of the TransEquity Summit, hosted by the City of Minneapolis, since 2019 and has been a sponsor every year since. Since I learned of the event a few years ago, I’ve been interested, and this year was my first time attending this annual gathering that supports trans and gender-expansive residents in connecting to resources, learning, and each other.
At this year’s Trans Equity Summit, trans folks and allies from across the state and country gathered at Minneapolis College to learn, laugh, dine, and be inspired by a powerful lineup of speakers, breakout sessions, and resources.
We started the day in conversation with Diamond Stylz, CEO of Black Transwomen Inc. She spoke about her journey to leadership and trials she has overcome, like suing Indianapolis Public Schools to be allowed to wear a dress to her prom in high school. What touched me the most was her deeply engaging Q&A with the audience. A woman in attendance, emotional about her question, asked about how to be a better mother as a trans woman to her son, who is attending school where he faces bullying because of who she is. Diamond’s answer sticks with me – just asking how to be a better mother and being open to navigating with your son as he is teased for your identity is a sign that you’re already a good mother; just keep it real with him and stay open to learning from him, and he should do the same for you. Strong relationships are built on communication: a message for anyone who needs it.
After the opening session, I attended a session titled Queering Biology where Sam Sharpe presented PhD research about common misconceptions related to biology. The session was interactive and challenged members of the audience to examine their own beliefs and knowledge of biology related to gender and sexuality and to consider how these topics should be taught in school. I think this PBS map of gender diverse cultures around the world is the most important resource people should know about when talking about trans identities that are natural, and common across the planet.
After this session, I met with my coworker Fiona to table at the resource fair. This was my favorite part — seeing so many members of community rallying to support trans lives.
So many people and organizations are leading great work to support trans communities across the state, recognizing how multiple identities can intersect in a single person. Like people in all communities, trans people are not a monolith, and these organizations, which include WFMN grantee-partners, use an intersectional lens to respond and target resources to serve the intersecting identities of their communities.
Annex Teen Clinic – Supporting young people taking charge of their sexual health by providing confidential health services and education. Often little is taught in schools, and orgs like this step up to fill in knowledge gaps.
The Arc Minnesota – Statewide nonprofit that works to promote and protect the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, supporting them and their families in a lifetime of full inclusion in their communities.
Black Visions – Black-led, Queer and Trans centering organization whose mission is to organize powerful, connected Black communities and dismantle systems of violence.
City of Minneapolis Transgender Equity Council – A board of appointed community members who advise City leadership on policy related to trans equity. Apply today!
J Pride, a program of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis – Creates community through queer-focused Jewish programming for LGBTQ+ people and allies throughout the Twin Cities.
Ladies of the Lakes – A nonprofit order of queer nuns spreading joy and expiating guilt while raising money for the community. A house of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center – Nonprofit organization serving Indigenous women and two-spirit individuals and their families.
Transforming Generations – Culturally specific gender justice and queer justice organization in St. Paul serving Hmong and LGBTQ+ populations.