Gender Benders started in Upstate SC about two and a half years ago with three friends getting coffee. Those friends started talking about what needs they had as trans* folks in Upstate SC, and asked themselves what they could do to meet those needs.
At the time there was no trans* community in the Upstate. They developed a three-pronged approach to serving the LGBT* community in Upstate SC. The first area is resources. So far we've held name change workshops, meetings with the Greenville Health System, and community law workshops on legal protections in the workplace, as well as many other resource-oriented events.
The second leg of what we do is activism. We believe that the Upstate can be a safe place for LGBT* folks in future generations and even in the present, but that it's going to take every one of us doing our part to create the social change we need in SC. We've tried to be part of the change by serving as peacekeepers at We Do actions accross the South, organizing actions at local college campuses for National Day of Silence, and speaking at public educational events in the community, as well as participating in other events and demonstrations.
The third, and possibly most important, part of what we do is supporting each other through friendships and community-building. Nearly all of us went through a period of time where we felt that we were alone or that something was wrong with us because we were trans* or LGBT*. Many of us believed before we joined that no one understood how it felt to walk this journey as a trans* person in the south. Suddenly we're not alone. We have a family, currently 275 members strong and counting.
Time and again members take calls from each other when they're struggling. For a community with an attempted suicide rate at nearly 50%, it can be life-saving to simply know you're not alone. This is a huge part of why your donation is so important to our work. For us, face-to-face personal connections with each other save lives. We're gearing up for our second annual Camp Gender Benders in July. Camp is an amazing opportunity for members to spend four days and three nights bonding with each other. Our camp programming this year includes workshops on improving coping skills, creating Health Care Power of Attorney documents, and getting a name change in SC, as well as team building exercises and small-group support sessions. Camp GB gives members an opportunity to build relationships that can carry them through the hardest times in life.
This little group has already far surpassed what those three friends getting coffee two-and-a-half years ago could have imagined. We're 100% volunteer run, and we need your support to continue serving the community and holding events. We stretch every dollar we get. Your gift will go directly to our work.
No donation is too small to make a difference for a small, resourceful grassroots group like ours. A gift of $35 will provide a scholarship for one Gender Bender for our entire four-day three-night camp. A gift of $100 will provide scholarships for three Gender Benders for all of camp. If we exceed our camp fundraising goal of $1,000 your gift will support the rest of our work throughout the year.
Thank you for taking time to read about us and consider us in your giving this year! If you or someone you know needs support please feel free to connect with us. You are never alone.