This past Saturday, Outreach Madison held a large celebration to celebrate transgender folks in the community. It included tie-dye, bingo, free snacks, and a clothing swap. It was, in part, counter-programing to a radical femist conference that was also held over the weekend. But largely it was an event where trans people and their allies enjoyed a windy, but warm afternoon at Olbrich Park.
The Madison Area Transgender Association organized the Celebrate Trans Joy in Community event. The Association, also called MATA, is a program of Outreach LGBTQ+ Community Center. Jilip was a part of the planning team. “We wanted to do something to center trans joy. A: because it needs to happen anyway. And B: because we heard about an event that was being coordinated by some other trans antagonistic groups. So we wanted to do something that would bring joy to the community and take some of the focus away from that and center trans joy,” ze says. Jilip was largely in charge of greeting participants as they arrived at the event. “It’s just It’s been amazing. And I couldn’t have imagined that just a couple months of planning would turn out to be like.”
There was bingo, tie-dye, button making, and free snacks. Madison, who is also on MATA’s leadership team, says the group came up with activities that would be easy and fun while being quick and inexpensive. “Often if you don’t announce your pronouns, people don’t know, so we have pronoun buttons” she says. “A lot of it just came from, hey, what kind of needs do we have? Well, okay, the clothing swap. You know, that’s something like I transitioned years ago, I still have a lot of my old male clothes. I don’t need them, but a trans man here might.”
Jax was running the clothing swap, which according to em, meant running around and folding clothes. “The thing about clothing swaps, they’re very like self directed,” Jax explained. “Running a clothing swap is really just teaching people to like do things themselves.” There were tarps with lots of donated clothes laid out and people dug through to find clothes they wanted.
The event also hosted educational and informational tables for both Outreach and their partnering organizations–like UW’s Gender and Sexuality Campus Center and GSAFE: an organization that advocates for queer youth in Wisconsin’s K-12 schools.
AJ is the the transgender health advocate at Outreach. He connects trans people with resources in the community and provides cultural competency training around LGBTQ+ issues. He says as a new employee, he was blown away by the volunteer effort to create the event. “Especially the leadership that put on this event, are amazing, like, incredibly committed to, you know, finding a place in a space where trans people can feel celebrated and safe. And, you know, just kind of welcome in a comfortable way that like, we don’t really have as trans people in a lot of other spaces,” they explain. “So this was, it was really amazing process to step into, I think based on the turnout, a very, very successful kind of way for people to just really celebrate transness, and the joy that comes along with living as ourselves.”
Ultimately, Celebrate Trans Joy in Community, resulted in just that–trans joy in community.