How We Started
Trans Assistance Project started, in November 2016, when I released a set of Google docs on Facebook entitled, “Donor/Recipient Project,” - a direct response to the election of Donald Trump. The idea was that trans folks and people that wanted to help trans folks could be matched based on the needs stated in these applications. These forms spread extremely quickly and I soon realized that the amount of labor required to get this off the ground far exceeded what I could do on my own. Literally days after the forms went live, a director of a trans non-profit that didn't appear to have any trans people working for them contacted me asking if they could take over the project. I was in over my head, so I reached out to Nina Chaubal and Greta Martela from Trans Lifeline (which we are now partnered with) for advice, and then brought on three trusted friends- Phos, Jules, and Stella, and- busting our asses- we transformed these google docs into TAP.
We began to realize the full potential of the work we were doing when we participated in an ID clinic in Portland, Oregon last November. Seeing people’s faces light up when they realized that we weren’t trying to interrogate them or act as gatekeepers was literally life-changing, as in we decided to turn this into our life’s work. Things seemed hopeful. Then, on December 2nd, the unthinkable happened- I lost two beautiful friends and sisters in the Oakland Fire. I went to the bay area to help however I could, to grieve, to be around my friends and family, but was quickly hit over the head with news coverage, ranging from corny to downright disrespectful, that misgendered and deadnamed these women that I held so dear. That felt so shitty, and, determined to do something about it we took the media to task under the banner of TAP. Ultimately, we were able to change the national dialogue on how trans folks are represented in both their lives and beyond, but the whole experience was a jarring reminder of how much support we, as trans individuals, truly need.
Currently, we are training a growing team of support advocates that will work directly with each recipient in our system, establishing an ongoing relationship based on care and trust. Volunteers are also working to create a database of legal resources so that we can better determine funds and criteria needed to expedite paperwork at future ID Clinics. Additionally this database includes vetted medical professionals that we can refer clients to. What we’ve accomplished in the past two months is extraordinary, and frankly more than we could have ever imagined. I’m hopeful about the future, even as shit is definitely getting very real.
We are asking our community to help us get the word out about TAP. Talk about us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever social media outlets you can. Talk to your friends and family, change their minds if they have lousy trans politics. Organize events and ID clinics (you can even ask us to fund your clinics). Drop banners, hang posters, make noise. TAP exists because we were tired of waiting for people to help us and we just said fuck it and went wild. You can do the same thing.
I’d like to give a huge shout out to all the rad people that helped make this happen: Leila from Sankofa Collective NW, Raina from the Q-Center, Sarah the Website Witch, Pearl from Desk & Mug, Mat from the ACLU, all the folks from GLAAD, NCLR, TLC, my bb boi Adam (the greatest artist), Dusty from Lavender Law Project, all the folks that volunteered their time and labor and sweat and tears. Seriously, thank you all.
Scout, Phos, Jules, & Stella