Tristate Transgender put on a Transgender Support Gala Feb. 9.
The Gala was put on in an effort to not only provide a safe space for members of the transgender and non-binary community, but to also have a great time, according to Vyla Grindberg, a volunteer within the community.
All proceeds from the event go to helping transgender members within the community.
The event included a raffle, door prizes and lots of dancing.
Being transgender means that the person does not identify with the gender they were assigned with at birth.
When asked, Grindberg described what it’s like to be transgender in the Fargo-Moorhead area. “It depends how well you pass,” Grindberg said.
“Passing,” as Grindberg describes it, means to blend into the gender that you identify with as a person. This isn’t an issue for people who do not identify as transgender, which can also be defined as a “cis” person.
“It should never have to come down to that,” Grindberg said, encouraging that simply because someone identifies as transgender does not mean they have to change their physical appearance to pass.
A strong trans community came out Friday night, with everyone talking to everyone, with laughter and pride infecting the room, as people of all ages, at least those over 21, came out to support the transgender community of the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Jennifer Lies came out in support of her son, who transitioned at an early age and now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She said that even though he doesn’t live in the area anymore, she finds it important to support and give back to the growing community that supported her son.
Miles, Finley and Kimmins came all the way up from Sioux Falls, South Dakota just for the event. They said that they never get to go to events like this and couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Heather Wells, a local from Fargo, believes that it’s time for North Dakota to get with the times. “It’s 2018. Trans rights should’ve been recognized decades ago.” She expressed that an event like this, and future events to come, are important because the trans community, especially the one in Fargo and the rest of North Dakota, need our support.
Rebel Marie, organizer of the event, the first of its kind in the area, echoed Wells, stating that being trans in North Dakota is very isolating and lonely, being so underrepresented. Marie believes that events like these will show that places like North Dakota and Minnesota can be affirming and supportive for trans individuals.
The ball got rolling after Fargo-Moorhead Pride last year, in which many individuals that identified as trans felt like they were not being included and that the entire event was geared toward the gay community, while only putting trans people on display.
Marie said, “If we’re going to be put on display, we might as well look good while doing it.” Thus began the journey to host a night where trans individuals could come together in an affirming setting and feel like they are no longer isolated.
Marie said there will absolutely be more events like this for trans individuals to get together and assured that there will be a second annual gala next year, in which she hopes can be more inclusive of all ages and families.
Grindberg’s message to the North Dakota State community is to accept and love others for who they are, regardless of sexual identity, orientation or anything else.