They’re a marginalized minority within a marginalized minority and often overlooked when we scan the periphery underneath the rainbow umbrella. Now Rimonte’ Parker, a youth peer leader at the Ruth Ellis Center, has started a group for young trans men and he’s calling it NuiiWaav.
“It’s just a new era,” Parker, 28, told Between The Lines. “It’s a whole new era. It’s something different and we’re like the unknown.”
Parker, a native Detroiter, first came to REC when he was just 16.
“Everybody was talking about we should go to the center,” he recalled. “And I was like what kind of center? So I came in and I ain’t never stopped coming.”
Two years ago, Parker decided to officially transition and began taking testosterone while under the medical supervision of one of REC’s doctors. Eventually, Parker became a youth peer leader with the center and in that capacity came up with the idea to start the support group for trans men.
“Ruth Ellis was open arms,” he said. “They let us in. I mentor these men. I help them mentally, physically and emotionally. I prevent homicides and suicides. I build relationships with them one on one.”
Parker did outreach at Ferndale Pride, Motor City Pride and Hotter Than July promoting his new group.
“With me, these men can just be themselves,” said Parker. “If they need support then I got them. When they need family support, someone to talk to, I have all of the resources – anything they want to know.”
Syncere, a trans man who regularly attends the group, credits Parker and his group for supporting him as he started to transition.
“They did a lot for me as far as helping me get on T (sic) and helping me transition,” he said. “I feel like Remi is actually doing a huge thing for our community because a lot of places we don’t get no support. Trans women get a lot of support but there’s nothing for the trans man. So I feel Remi is doing something really great.”
Lilianna Reyes, interim executive director of Affirmations and co-executive director of the Trans Sistas of Color Project, confirmed that trans men do often get overlooked.
“They are really an invisible culture,” Reyes said. “I would say that trans men often get overlooked for a few reasons. One part of that is their privilege to pass. Testosterone is so much different on the body that (estrogen) hormones. It’s much easier to put something strong in you than to take something strong away. So there’s this sense that once a lot of trans start their testosterone they’re much more passable. So much of the violence decreases and the stigma, the overall stigma of what passability looks like for those who wants to pass, is not there.”
Trans men are more likely to blend into the crowd, and they often go along to get along.
“I feel like the reason there’s more attention to trans women is they’re more out,” said Parker. “Trans men, they blend in like chameleons. Now that I’m bringing it out, they’re coming out. I just didn’t want to keep struggling looking for help. Most definitely trans women do get more than trans men. But I want to help both.”
NuiiWaav is open to trans men age 16 to 20. The group meets at the Ruth Ellis Center on Monday from 4 to 5 p.m. The Ruth Ellis Center is located at 77 Victor St. in Highland Park. For more information, email Rimonte’ Parker at email@example.com.