At Trans United event, supporters discuss sharing resources and funding nationwide

Swathed in purple, Andrea Jenkins ascended the podium at Philadelphia City Hall Jan. 19 to recite her original work “A Requiem for the Queers (or why we wear the color purple).”

Jenkins, a transgender candidate for Minneapolis City Council, built momentum with repetition.

“All y’all can go and get married now,” she said, “but I can’t even vote because my ID does not match up to the person standing in the ballot box. All y’all can go and get married now, but I still have to suffer a urinary tract infection because I can’t go to the bathroom in some public spaces.”

Jenkins talked about the need to uplift transgender leadership. She said that informed her choice to run for public office even though, if elected, it would mean giving up her dream job working on the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota.

Jenkins was among several transgender people who spoke at one of the first fundraisers for the Trans United Fund. It coincided with Creating Change, the nation’s largest LGBT conference, which the National LGBTQ Task Force is hosting this year in Philadelphia.

Trans United Fund started last year in Washington, D.C., as the first national trans-focused political-advocacy group. It is part of Trans United, which works to build leadership capacity within the trans community.

Angelica Ross, co-chair of the fund, described its aim.

“It’s about bringing together all of the power within the trans community,” she said. “There were so many trans people who were launching their own organizations and a lot of us were doing a lot of hard work by ourselves alone in silos without funding, without resources.”

Ross said Trans United Fund will serve as a place for trans leaders across the country to share talent, resources and funding. They can also learn how to advance each other’s leadership in elected or other roles.

Sharron Cooks, a longstanding activist in Philadelphia who became well known nationwide for serving as the only transgender woman of color in the delegation to the Democratic National Convention, also spoke. When she took to the podium, she led a round of applause for registered voters in the room. Cooks then emphasized the importance of community and relationship building.

“My success is not success unless all of you are succeeding as well,” she said, noting she was pleased to support all transgender people who “put themselves on the line to be visible.”

For more information or to donate to the Trans United Fund, visit www.transunitedfund.org.