Wednesday marked International Transgender Day of Visibility. Here in Wyoming, Casper Pride announced a new fund specifically for Natrona County's transgender community. Wyoming Public Radio's Maggie Mullen spoke with Mallory Pollock from the organization. She says the idea for the project was born out of what the group learned through some local surveying.
Mallory Pollock: It was like five focus groups, and one of them was trans specific. And when you'd listen to the other groups like the 30 [person] gay and lesbian group like, "Yeah, we like what more events." And then you'd get to the trans group. And it was like, "I just don't want to lose my housing." It was just such a shocking spectrum, and just a huge gap between where that part of our community was and where the rest of us were. And so we thought, we have this money, and we just really need to get it into the hands of these people to create their community, to meet the needs that they need. Of course, we can all sit here and guess like, "Well, maybe they need this, or that." But the trans community here is isolated, and fragmented. And we thought if we just put the money to them, and they dedicate to where it needs to go to, then it is going to make a bigger impact. So we announced the fund. You don't have to be transgender to apply, but it has to be used to impact them. So we threw out some ideas, like you could use this money to host monthly dinners and we will pay for it. Or the creation of like documents to help the community navigate legal issues. And that one, we actually have a project that's nearly complete already. Someone kind of shared their project with us. And I said, "if you can just hold on a minute, we can actually fund that." So someone created a document for the name change process, how to legally change your name here in the county. And they documented it, they have hyperlinks to websites. And they said "on this day, I did this that it took me this long, and here's what you should budget, and here's who to talk to." And that document has been shared multiple times from this person. And since we got it in our hands, we've even shared it a few times. So we want to be able to give back to someone who created such a valuable document for everyone else. You could use it to bring in a trans speaker, or offer some trainings, or something. So our hope is that we get a lot of projects that people want to do because we have our own set of projects and stuff. And we just thought that this would be a better buy-in and impact if we got the money to the people that it's going to ultimately affect.
Maggie Mullen: So tell me about Natrona County's transgender community. Casper is a city by Wyoming's definition. But it's still a small town. I'm guessing that the issues there are different than what they are in, say, Denver or Salt Lake City.
MP: Yeah. I first think that the trans community here, it does not exist outside of a hidden Facebook group, a private group. And even within that group, someone can write something and the 500 people in the group won't respond. There's no community there to even begin to help. Which is kind what we envision the funds going to is to get that community together. So there was maybe one one time everyone met last year at a picnic. And just one person that really wanted to get together with people, paid for the food there. But then, that was it. So there's no constant togetherness, there's no, "you can go here and meet people." It's just a group that we really need to bring up to where the rest of us are on a daily basis. I would love to see anyone in Casper, to see them fill out an application when those are released. And then join us for Pride in June. It'll be June 9 through the 13 this year up here in Casper.
MM: Well thank you so much for your time today, Mallory. I really appreciate it.
MP: Thanks, Maggie.
This transcript has been edited for clarity.