By Crystal Proxmire
As the summer pride season winds down, one final celebration in Geary Park gives the transgender community a chance to show its pride. Pride in the Park, organized by Transgender Michigan, takes place this Saturday, Aug. 27 from noon to 6 p.m.
“It’s like a family reunion for trans people,” said Transgender Michigan co-founder Rachel Crandall. She and her wife Susan Crocker formed the statewide organization in 1997, and they have organized the picnic for the last ten years. The first event was held in Lansing, and it changed locations before settling in Ferndale five years ago.
“People come from all over the state and the surrounding states to be here for the picnic,” Crandall said. “For some it’s the only time they are able to go out and socialize with other trans people, or the only time they can dress how they want and be themselves.”
In the past the event included speakers, bands and other activities, but Crandall said those who attend want to get to know each other. “Don’t worry if you don’t know anybody,” she said. “There are a lot of people there who are really friendly. They go around introducing themselves and making sure everyone feels welcome and has somebody to talk to.”
Transgender Michigan provides free hot dogs, veggie dogs, burgers and chips for the picnic. Attendees are encouraged to bring a side dish to pass, but it is not required. The event is free.
The event is the largest gathering of transgender people in the state, with turnout typically ranging between 50 and 100 depending on the weather. Last year 70 people came out for the event.
Transgender Michigan, which is also headquartered in Ferndale, provides counseling, information, advocacy and networking opportunities for transgender people and their allies. They also hold community events like the Pride in the Park Picnic and the upcoming Transgender Health Fair, which is September 17 from 1-4 p.m. at Affirmations Community Center.