Metro Weekly

Trans Pride: A Celebration of Truth

Capital Trans Pride allows D.C. trans folk to celebrate their identity in a safe space and a loving environment

SaVanna Wanzer at Trans Pride 2016 – Photo: Ward Morrison

“The most memorable Capital Trans Pride would have to be the first,” says SaVanna Wanzer, who cofounded the event in 2007. “There was this sense that the community had waited so long, and we’d received the greatest gift.”

Wanzer, who sits on the board of Capital Pride, highlights Trans Pride’s “transformation station,” where a team of hair stylists and makeup artists help attendees change their outward appearance to match their gender identity.

“The moving part is when they look in the mirror and see the person that they want to be,” Wanzer says. “We had one lady last year, where it was the first time she had ever dressed up as a woman and been around other people. You should have seen the happiness and the smile on her face, and her just being who she was that whole day.”

Bianca Rey, an executive producer for Capital Trans Pride, enjoys the sense of accomplishment she feels when she hears positive feedback from attendees.

“I remember at last year’s Pride, when we were at Studio Theatre at the evening social event, watching everybody from the sidelines,” she says. “Listening to their conversations about what a good time they had made me feel that all of the planning and all of the meetings we had for Capital Trans Pride were worth it. It was worthwhile that I made even one person happy that day.”

A significant portion of Capital Trans Pride is dedicated to educational workshops dealing with issues important to the transgender community, such as obtaining health insurance coverage, advice on changing one’s name and gender marker, and information on legal rights.

This year’s event also features a resource fair, on-site HIV testing and counseling by community health center Whitman-Walker, a screening of MAJOR!, a Reel Affirmations documentary about the life of transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and an open mike talent showcase, hosted by Rayceen Pendarvis.

Transgender advocate Gavin Grimm, whose lawsuit protesting his local school board’s bathroom policies led to the first pro-transgender ruling from a U.S. appeals court, will give the keynote address at lunch.

It was two years ago, when the various workshops began to be filled to capacity, that Holly Goldman, also an executive producer of the event, realized Tran Pride had taken on a life of its own.

“I think that this year is going to be the last year that it’s going to be a one-day event,” she says. “We’ve already outgrown Studio Theatre — I had to turn people away this year. I have a six-deep waiting list.”

Goldman believes that part of what makes Capital Trans Pride so special is that the day is a “truth celebration.”

“We’re not protesting, we’re not putting our hardships and our problems out there. We’re not pretending they don’t exist, but for one day, we’re putting them aside and celebrating the fact that we’re trans and that we’re all the same, and that we love each other. Whether it’s someone who transitioned 40 years ago, or someone who transitioned the day before, that’s what makes it special. It really, truly is for everyone.”

Capital Trans Pride is Saturday, May 20, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. For more information, visit capitalpride.org/events/capital-trans-pride or facebook.com/capitaltranspride.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com