This Monday, hundreds gathered in Chicago to celebrate the second annual Trans 100 event. Awards were given to 100 trans men and women, including Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox, activist CeCe McDonald, and mixed martial artist Fallon Fox. And the whole thing is pretty awesome.
As ESPN.com editor and 2014 honoree Christina Kahrl said, "I think the important message to take is, whether it’s inside the ring, on the field, in the press box, [or] in the locker room, I belong, you belong, we belong. We all belong."
The event, which was sponsored by Chicago House, Lambda Legal, and GLAAD, seeks to spotlight trans men and women who are "working to improve the lives of trans people," whether their work happens on the local, state-wide, or national level, especially those working "on the ground." Any out and living trans person can be nominated, and the organization particularly encourages nominees of color and those whose work has gone unrecognized in the past.
This year, Laverne Cox and Kye Allums were keynote speakers, and Gloria Allen, who at 67 years old has been a long time mentor to LGBT youth, was awarded the Living Legend Award. Additionally, several honorees chose to use the opportunity to highlight the issues still plaguing the trans community, such as being prohibited from service in the US military.
The trans community has long been plagued by misperception, ignorance, and discrimination. One in five trans people are homeless, numbers that are even more alarming when looking at trans people of color specifically, and most states still do not recognize gender identity as a protected class. Furthermore even as media portrayals of gays and lesbians grow more common, more accepted, and more positive, trans representation in film and television continues to lag behind. Which is why these awards are a much needed opportunity to highlight the often overlooked work that so many people do everyday.
Other honorees from this years awards include Kortney Ziegler, the founder of Trans*H4ck, a website that connects trans people with doctors and medical resources; Advocate.com writer Parker Marie Molloy; Cloud Atlas director Lana Wachowski; and Trans March cochair Tracy Garza, among many other noteworthy names.
The full list will be available for download sometime this week from the Trans 100 website.