Becoming the solution
Considering the LGBTQ community as a whole, trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (TGNCNB) people often face the most pronounced and pernicious discrimination and violence. And we know that is largely because the rules of a supposed gender binary are at the root of all anti-LGBTQ prejudice. With that, we understand that our Movement is not whole and cannot truly succeed without the leadership of TGNCNB people—people whose very existence affirms the beauty and importance of self-determination.
In late 2018, we were honored to sponsor a historic leadership retreat organized by the New York State Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, and Non-Binary Advisory Group. The first-ever statewide retreat for TGNCNB folks in New York, this conference gathered participants in scenic Hudson for a weekend aimed at building skills and collective power. Over the course of three days, leaders from every corner of the state found community in education, organizing, mentorship, and fun.
This opportunity was long overdue, especially for people in remote cities and towns, where isolation can be a fact of life. One participant, a young trans woman from Newburgh, had never in her life met another trans person. For her, this wasn’t simply a retreat, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has propelled her forward. Yet, the connections made did not just benefit those present. With time dedicated to sharing and strategizing at an unprecedented scale, retreat participants cemented an institutional network that impacts more than 101,000 TGNCNB New Yorkers.
As an LGBTQ grantmaker, Stonewall takes seriously the responsibility to listen to TGNCNB leaders, and to support their work without prescribing its course. That is the only way it will thrive. As one participant of the retreat said, “We will be a part of our own healing process, and we will be the solution. But you have to give us a chance.”