The Q Austin and Gender Unbound hosted Transgender Day of Visibility on Sunday to celebrate the transgender community of Austin with drag performances, stand-up comedy and free tests for multiple STDs provided by AIDS Services of Austin. The event also included poetry readings and raffling hand-crafted art made by transgender artists.
One of the major focuses of the event was affirming and uplifting members of the transgender community. Between the drag performances and raffle drawings, attendees had the opportunity to take the stage and state their identity to rounds of applause from the audience. Those who identified as transgender wrote messages and drew on a wall to create a large mural, with a separate wall dedicated to allies who came to the Q Austin to support their transgender friends.
“I have more than plenty of friends that are transgender,” social work sophomore Mark Candelario said. “It’s important to be visible as an ally and as a friend for people that are the minority in a community that is still a minority.”
Because the Q Austin is part of a prevention program for AIDS Services of Austin, the event also featured free testing for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and Hepatitis C. These confidential tests allowed attendees to receive their results in 15 minutes or five days, depending on the test. Another part of the Q Austin’s mission is to raise awareness about STDs and inform people about safer sex options.
“What I’ve noticed, when people come to these events, a lot of the information is new,” Q Austin volunteer Kibsaim Rebollar said. “It makes me really happy that they found it and they had the courage to come out and check it out, and that they leave knowing more.”
Beyond providing information on STDs and safe sex, volunteers said the Q Austin strives to create a safe space and a community for transgender people in Austin. Organizations dedicated to supporting the transgender community set up tables to inform and advertise their services.
“(The Q Austin) gets to make connections with people and give them a reason to come back,” Q Austin volunteer Jeremy Hasson said. “The programs are empowering for the LGBTQ community through the resources and through the people making those connections.”
Last September, changes in funding forced the Q Austin to move from its near campus location at Medical Arts Street and Dean Keeton, to East Austin, according to previous reporting from The Daily Texan.