2 min

No fear of a trans planet

First-ever award ceremony rewards stars

"It's not about a hierarchy. It's recognizing people who have been working for 30 years and never been recognized. Credit: DEAN TOMLINSON

Tonight’s first-ever Trans Planet Awards are all about recognizing hard work, not saying that some people are better than others, organizers say.

“We’ve received some feedback that we’re creating a hierarchy in the community,” says Trans Fusion Crew member Josh Schwebbel. “It’s not about a hierarchy. It’s recognizing people who have been working for 30 years and never been recognized.

“There’s a real dichotomy among trans men and women. This event brings us together. Hopefully it will be a success and we’ll start a tradition.”

The awards show Nov 29 features entertainers Dana Baitz and her band; Michigan-based writer, filmmaker and transsexual cultural producer Jay Sennett; Descanon Cook and DJ Lazyboy.

TFC, an initiative of the group Supporting Our Youth, created the awards to recognize trans leaders. The organization received 60 nominations in seven categories: grassroots/community activist; eminent artist; erotic star; youth superstar; lifetime achievement; outstanding organization and outstanding significant other, family, friend or ally.

“As a wider movement there hasn’t been this recognition before, so I don’t think there’s space for a hierarchy yet,” says TFC member Vlad Wolanyk. “People often think awards are popularity contests. [But] mirrors are really important in the trans community and these mirrors celebrate our identity.”

There’s been growth in the kinds of programs, activist work and connections available to trans people.

“I think a lot of projects that are out there did not exist five years ago,” says SOY associate coordinator Anna Camilleri.

“That speaks to people who have been working hard…. I think they’re important. There are people who I know who have been working really hard,” says Camilleri. “People who are driven by a commitment and a vision for creating spaces for trans people. I think it is essential that those people are recognized.”

The one-year-old TFC group is an activist project that creates social and political spaces for transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, intersexed youth and their allies. In addition to the Trans Planet Awards, the organization is working towards developing a health clinic for trans people and a zine.

Schwebbel, who identifies as a trans boy, got involved with the group because “it was something useful to do in the community…. It’s a way to get stuff done around my issues.

“I like organizing things and being involved in events. We have a lot of discussions around trans issues. It’s not just social, it’s political as well,” he says.

“I think that it’s important to be part of my community rather than being on the outside and participating in stuff.”

Look for the winners in the next issue of Xtra.