I got a chance to catch up with KOKUMO, a fierce trans woman and art activist in Chicago, about Chicago’s first ever Trans Pride event, T.G.I.F. KOKUMO was recently recognized as one of Windy City Times’ “30 Under 30″ and appeared on the cover of Red Eye’s July 9th story, “Gender Warriors.”
So tell me what TGIF is all about and how it got started? What are some of the challenges that trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGI) people face?
T.G.I.F (trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex freedom) is a catalyst for TGI political unrest and artistic assertion. It came from a realization that TGI people have no public forum for our whole persons. At other venues we are mocked and ridiculed. T.G.I.F. is a place for us to commune unabashedly.
What are some of the happenings going on at TGIF?
There is a lot being offered at Trans Pride. We will have a Name Change Mobilization and Gender Affirming Clothes. We will also have drives for incarcerated trans women by Transformative Justice Law Project. We will have tables by Broadway Youth Center, Center on Halsted, and a self-defense class by Soy Quien Soy. We will also have performances by El Rey, Mercedes Bonet, About Face Youth Theatre, Youth Empowerment Performance Project, the Queer Choir and KOKUMO. Finally, since our mantra this year is, “Enterprising from the Margins”, we have Trans People of Color Coalition founder Kylar Broadus giving a keynote address. As an out trans lawyer, he will be discussing building our own spaces and institutions. Now’s the time!
How has this process of setting up TGIF gone?
This process has been revelatory. I have learned that if you build it, people truly will come. I have people traveling from across the Midwest to participate in this momentous occasion. I can say that I am honored to have been the person called to do this.
What do you see for the future of TGIF and trans activism?
Next year I want people from across the nation in attendance. I want this to mimic the March on Washington. TGI people of color have an immediate need that the world is not offering. It is our time to demand and build. Next year we address the evolution of a revolution.
KOKUMO closed by offering this final sentiment that perfectly sums up the entire ethos of Trans Pride:
I came to change.
T.G.I.F. is July 29th at Union Park at 12 to 4 PM. Don’t miss it!
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Dee is a transgender woman, queer dyke, and political activist who lives in the Andersonville neighborhood. She has worked at Early to Bed as a sex educator, and is a writer who performs at All the Writers I Know, a monthly queer literary event. She loves movement-building and organizing for civil liberties, accessible education, queer liberation, and against U.S. wars. One day she hopes to bring home a hairless cat to live with her and her girlfriend.