by Yani Robinson
February 4, 2015
I knew I was looking for a different kind of community when I moved to Seattle in 2013. I spent a few months hustling to find a decent restaurant job and rent I could afford. Not long after, as a birthday present to myself, I sat down with a trans naturopath (only in Seattle, I swear) and started testosterone in October 2013.
Seattle’s trans community is huge. I have met close to a hundred trans men and women here. If the turnout for Trans Pride is any indication, there are hundreds more I don’t know. Seattle is a progressive city. Many of my trans friends tell me that they face less street harassment in Seattle, compared to Baltimore (where I’m from) and Pittsburgh.
I am on Medicaid, like the majority of my fellow broke, young, queer/trans friends. Through networking with other trans patients I have found informed health care providers who take Medicaid, but as comprehensive as the Affordable Care Act is on paper, the reality is that many providers, particularly surgeons, refuse to take insurance of any kind, least of all Obamacare.
For gender-confirming surgeries such as top surgery or vaginoplasty, most trans people have no choice but to pay for surgeries out-of-pocket. There are a handful of initiatives at universities or large companies like Starbucks who will reimburse qualified employees for medically necessary gender-confirmation surgeries, but these programs are backed up in years of red tape and paperwork.
The fact of the matter is, though there is progress happening in trans health care reform, gender-affirming surgeries are not accessible for low-income trans people living paycheck to paycheck. On sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter there are hundreds of trans people trying to crowdfund their surgeries. The upcoming Mr. Trans Seattle Pageant is the first in a series of benefits for trans people I am organizing with Braedyn Ezra.
The first pageant created by and for transmasculine folks is coming to Seattle on Thursday February 12, 2015 at Kremwerk (1809 Minor Avenue). Inspired by Murray Hill’s pageants in NYC and Original Plumbing’s event in San Francisco last year, Braedyn and I are proud to present Seattle’s own celebration of trans masculinity. Six to ten local trans men will compete for the title of “Mr. Trans Seattle 2015” in three categories: Swim Wear, Evening Wear, and Talent.
The competition will be emcee’d by transfabulous drag queen The Lady B, of the Houses Black and Sur Bete. First on the judging panel: FTM porn star James Darling, owner and operator of ftmfucker.com, who won the 2013 Feminist Porn Award for ‘Best Website.’ Next up is local musician Alicia Amiri, vocalist of Nightmare Fortress, who just released her first solo album last year at Barboza. She will also be opening a Belltown bar and venue in the coming months. Rounding out the judges is blonde bombshell, owner of Kremwerk, and newly out, queer, trans woman Nicole Stone. The pageant after party will be feature two fresh deep techno and house DJs Fenêtre and Ben Leininger.
The Mr. Trans Seattle pageant is an opportunity for visibility for the transmasculine community and is a fundraiser for Braedyn’s top surgery. Everyone participating in the event is doing so on a volunteer basis, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the contributions that each and every one of them are making towards the success of the pageant.
More about Braedyn’s personal situation: He left Phoenix, Arizona at 23 to begin his transition, hoping to find a more supportive community in Seattle. He currently works two jobs on Capitol Hill but is no closer to being able to pay for his surgery out-of-pocket. Your donation to this cause will mean Braedyn can move forward in living as his most authentic self and inspiring others to do the same.
He and I hope to create a safe, positive space for trans men to show off their beautiful bodies and talent in all of their unique forms and inspire others to come out, connect, and share their stories. With representatives from Babeland sex shop, Atomic Cosmetics, Gay City, and the trans health insurance We Are 1 campaign, this event is about raising awareness for trans people and their contributions to our community.