It was an opportunity for those who had waited a lifetime.
SunServe’s first ever transgender pool party on July 5 in Wilton Manors was hosted in order to encourage its participants to receive HIV testing as well as provide a safe space for gender non-conforming individuals to relax outside.
Trans men and women alike were welcomed to a pool area free of judgment, with helpful staff members from SunServe willing to provide anyone at the party with access to condoms as well as information about their free transgender services. Those present were encouraged to mingle, expanding their support system within South Florida.
Providing games, raffles, free drinks and even an on-staff DJ, the event was a huge success, drawing a crowd of at least forty people from every background. A number of community activists such as Rajee Rajindra Narinesingh were also present, eager to show their support for the new event.
While trans individuals were allowed to enter for free, allies were still welcome but encouraged to either receive a free HIV test provided by Holy Cross Hospital’s Community Outreach bus, or to donate $40 to SunServe.
Many of the guests who were allowed to enter for free still had themselves tested at the mobile screening bus, partially a result of the positive encouragement of SunServe staff members.
According to the CDC, transgender people have an extraordinary high rate of HIV infections, with 27.7 percent of trans women testing positive. Another study revealed that 73 percent of the transgender women who tested positive were previously unaware of their status.
CDC claims these rates are rising in the trans population.
This event is by far not SunServe’s first step towards helping the many transgender and gender non-conforming citizens of Broward County. The organization has allocated an entire branch of its services specifically towards transgender patients, which the organization claims to be its fastest growing department.
According to Atticus Ranck, an intern for the Director of Transgender Services at Sunserve, they typically assist Broward residents with counseling, name changing services, support, education, and access to hormone therapy, among other services.
“Hopefully today’s event will build year after year after this,” Atticus said, who was present at the pool party as one of many volunteers. “Our hope is it will raise money for the Transgender Services, which are directed by Arianna Lint.”
While the pool party was not free of kinks, with isolated arguments arising, the composed volunteers of SunServe including Arianna Lint herself seized the opportunity to unite their attendees and remind them of the importance of embracing each other as a community.
Once the night had concluded, the party’s attendees were each given bags with donated items from the event’s sponsors, such as AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
As the Transgender Services Department at SunServe continues to grow, it’s likely that the community can come to expect more transgender-focused events that allow both the trans community of Broward County as well as other members of the LGBT community a chance to safely collaborate and embrace each other.
For more information about SunServe’s transgender services, visit www.sunserve.org/transgender.