Three trans advocacy groups receive Equality Virginia grants

Zakia McKensey, executive director of Nationz Foundation, which runs the T-gurlz Rock support group for transgender women in Richmond, Va., is among those participating in Equality Virginia’s Transgender Visibility Initiative. (Photo courtesy of Equality Virginia)

Three transgender groups have received grants from Equality Virginia that will bolster their capacity and advocacy efforts.

Lynchburg Transgender Alliance, T-gurlz Rock in Richmond and the CVille Trans Peer Group in Charlottesville have each received $3,000 through Equality Virginia’s Transgender Visibility Initiative, which is an expansion of the statewide advocacy group’s Transgender Information and Education Summit (TIES) and Transgender Advocacy Speakers Bureau and Capacity Building Program.

Equality Virginia will provide 10 hours a month of “staff capacity” to each of the three organizations that have received Transgender Visibility Initiative grants. The program also includes three TIES Pop-Ups that will take place across Virginia this month.

The “pop-ups” are scheduled to take place in Winchester on July 14, Norfolk on July 21 and Roanoke on July 28.

Equality Virginia on its website notes the “pop-ups” will provide attendees with information on trans-friendly health care and an “employment readiness” training. The “pop-ups” will also have name and gender marker change clinics, workshops on how attendees can talk about their experiences as a trans person in Virginia and information on trans advocacy groups and organizations.

Equality Virginia hired Trace Hernandez to coordinate the program.

The Transgender Visibility Initiative is expected to provide a total of $20,000 over the next two years through TIES, the Transgender Advocacy Speakers Bureau and the Capacity Building Program.

Equality Virginia Deputy Director Vee Lamneck noted to the Washington Blade their organization in 2014 “really began to focus on building relationships with trans individuals, families, and organizations across the state.” The organization’s Transgender Visibility Initiative expands upon these efforts.

“Over the past several years, we have learned much about what the community needs from us as an organization, which is why we decided to launch the Trans Visibility Initiative,” said Lamneck. “This initiative will allow us to strengthen and build upon our previous work, and lift up the voices and experiences of trans individuals and families in Virginia.”

T-gurlz Rock is a support group for trans women the Nationz Foundation created.

Nationz Foundation Executive Director Zakia McKensey on Friday told the Blade the Equality Virginia grant has helped her organization train a new facilitator. She also said the funds will allow T-gurlz Rock “support a part-time social media specialist that is trans identified,” train additional group facilitators and create a new support group for trans men.

“The capacity building grant is extremely important because it helps trans-led organizations build capacity and raise awareness of the organization and the work we do,” McKensey told the Blade.

Charley Burton of the CVille Trans Peer Group agreed.

“EVs Visibility Initiative will allow our group to reach out to more trans people in the Charlottesville area,” he told the Blade in an email. “We have a diverse group of trans people in ages. It is my goal to also try to reach more trans people of color in the area.”

“By having this funding we plan on reaching people with films to educate who we are through media,” added Burton.

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