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Pride in the Park

By | 2009-08-20T09:00:00-04:00 August 20th, 2009|News|

When Rachel Crandall and Susan Crocker started Transgender Michigan in 1997, they began with a vision of a world where transpeople could be themselves while feeling completely safe, welcome and not alone. Last year, for one afternoon, 93 people lived that dream at the Trans Pride in the Park picnic.
This year Crandall hopes for more.
The largest gathering of transpeople in the state of Michigan takes place Aug. 22 with Transgender Michigan’s Trans Pride in the Park. The free annual picnic will be in Geary Park in Ferndale from noon until 5 p.m. There will be food, vendor tables, public speakers and plenty of time to make new friends.
Transgender Michigan Executive Director Crandall said that this is a unique event because it is rare to get such a large numbers of transpeople together. “Most trans events have a cost,” Crandall said. “And it can be hard for people to travel when they don’t have much money. For many people, this is the one event they make it out to each year. People come from all over Michigan; some from Ohio and Indiana.”
Transgender Michigan is a state-wide organization that provides support, information, advocacy and fun to over 1,500 people involved with the group, mainly by connecting online. They support the trans community with a 24-hour help line, a Web site with information on events, doctor referrals and printable brochures about a variety of trans-related subjects. There are also ways for members to connect such as a Yahoo group and TransNet, which is a referral service to offer support to people no matter which Michigan county they live in.
The leaders of Transgender Michigan are also advocates who have lobbied for the cause of transgender rights. They have a speaker’s bureau program and were the founders of Transgender Awareness Day, which has been celebrated in places across the country.
But this weekend, it’s all about Michigan’s trans community.
Crandall started the Transgender Pride Picnic as an informal gathering of transgender and gender-variant people at the annual Michigan Pride event in Lansing. Over the years, the picnic has moved east – first to Ann Arbor, then to Ferndale. “We were getting requests for people to have it in Ann Arbor because Lansing was too far,” she explained of the location switch. “But then there were so many transgender people in Ferndale that couldn’t make it out, so we moved it here. This is our third year in Ferndale.”
The event not only demonstrates that transpeople are a growing and organized group, but that they want to have fun and make friends just like everybody else. “People who are trans may sometimes feel lonely or isolated,” said Crandall. “But they come here and feel good seeing other trans people. I wanted Picnic in the Park to give a good feeling so people are free to enjoy getting to know each other. It’s really fun, but it’s also really touching.”
MTFs (Male-to-Female), FTMs (Female-to-Male), other gender variant people and allies are welcome at the picnic. Alcohol and negative attitudes are not. According to Crandall, in the entire history of the event there have been no unpleasant incidents. “The worst thing that happens is we all feel bad when it’s over and people don’t want to go home,” she said.
More information on Trans Pride in the Park and Transgender Michigan can be found at http://www.transgendermichigan.org.

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