By Sean Meyer
Trans*London has been around for 12 years and was started by Kimberly Hotham — in large part — because back then there wasn’t a lot of support for the city’s trans community. Some six years ago, Elliot Duvall came on board with the organization and today he stands as facilitator with his wife, Christa.
The organization started off as a social group where people could get together with others in the community, as well as allies, the LGBTQ+ community, straight folks, whomever, just to come together once a month to have a cup of coffee.
Today, there are some 360 online members with 40-50 regular attendees at monthly meetings. That, Christa explains, is proof there is “a huge need” in southern Ontario, and London, for information, social groups and a safe space for the trans community to be together. “Online, there is a lot of can anyone recommend this, or anyone recommend that. I think our monthly meeting group is mainly about the social aspect,” Christa said. “It’s also great to be able to meet each other. Some of the friendships that have evolved have been there for years and that’s really fantastic.”
Over the last few years, Elliot explains, Trans*London “kind of lost our space . . . it became unsafe for our members,” and so they started looking for a new place to call home.
The search was assisted by a friend who recommended they check out Innovation Works. Elliot had been aware of the space, having been there for several events in the past, and so last November he went into check it out.
It’s fair to say he came away impressed.
“We absolutely fell in love with the space. It’s really in-line with our philosophy as humans and what we believe in,” Christa said.
It was an impression Elliot instantly shared. “I walked in and gasped. I knew this space would be perfect for Trans*London.”
Trans*London’s first meeting at Innovation Works drew 20 people — a result Elliot and Christa were quite happy about.
The next month was 30 people, a number that grew to 40 by the following month.
“This space, most importantly, offers people safety. It offers community, which wasn’t available before,” Christa said. “It offers stability, people can count on it every single month; it isn’t going to disappear any time soon. We know that as long as we put our time in, this is available to us, which is just incredible.”
Using the launch of Trans*London as a blueprint for filling the gaps in community resources, this time around the lack of resources available for LGBTQ+ pre-teens as they have also created
The Rainbow Youth Umbrella.
Also known as Try-U, the organization was started because kids are coming out younger and younger these days. Try-U meets once a month on the first Thursday of each month some 10-15 kids who show up each week.
As successful as Trans*London, and now Try-U, have been, and as far as the trans community has come, Elliot is excited for where things are today, but he’s quick to acknowledge how much work is still to be done.
“I think things are getting better, but I can also walk on the street and have no issues,” he said.
“Unfortunately, one of the ladies who was just helping me, two weeks ago she was attacked just a couple blocks from here. So, you get so far and then it is like 7,000 steps back, but we have to still keep going.”
For more information, visit the Trans*London group on Facebook.
Want to surround yourself with organizations like Trans*London? Consider joining us at Innovation Works!