Sabrina Samone, TMP
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This past Saturday was the monthly meeting of C.A.T.S, Charleston area transgender support group. While many people in many areas hopefully have a local support group, we’re all too familiar with the ones that seem like a drag to attend or you must prepare yourself for what may feel like a daytime soap opera. Full of all the divisive issues facing the Trans community all packed into a small micro-drama. I had attended many support groups from GA, FL, and NC and if I didn’t have to be awaken when it was time to leave, I left feeling more isolated as a trans female than I had ever felt before. If anyone has felt those ways before at what suppose to be an uplifting moment of Trans comradery only to be left feeling disappointed all together hadn’t been to a C.A.T.S meeting.
C.A.T.S was founded in June 2000, by the late Terri Foxx, & Mrs. Olivia and is the longest running transgender support group in South Carolina. I had the pleasure of knowing Terri Foxx when she was alive and she would be proud to see how together the local community has become. The group was the perfect blend of what a Trans support group today should represent. Mrs. Olivia, one of the co-founders, is the elder patriarch of the group and it is a pleasant additive for younger Trans people to see, in the flesh, those that have paved the way and grew up in times when the thought of transgender people meeting alone, was scandal enough. The blend of ages was evident at the meeting from the patriarch down to the youngest of the group at 19 and 20. Attended by both Trans-men and women, black and white and those even representing the gender queer community. After seeing such togetherness at the national levels like in the Trans 100, where all efforts were made to represent all trans people, it was a pleasant surprise to see it on such a local level as well.
The Trans spectrum of sexuality was also apparent as many attended with significant others and Leslie Lain, a local trans showgirl even states that she has never, as a trans showgirl, felt so welcomed and included at a trans support group. During the introductions, she expressed how she’s attempted to be and longed to be a part of, as she stated, “Her people”, her Trans people but was always looked downed upon because many in the Trans community look down on Trans showgirls. She was elated to be so welcomed. The exclusion of different groups of girls that didn’t represent the majority of a group has been a problem for years within the trans community, that I hope we are at the turning point, not only locally but nationally of embracing all, regardless or socio-economic status, race, religion and sexual orientation, to be a part and made to feel a part of their, people.
That was the pleasant part of attending, to see everyone so welcomed and included, but to have decent active discussions of value was also very impressive. Many of us new attendees left with numbers and names of local doctors to monitor our HRT, all on the first visit to the group. Amy Garbati and her wife now head the support group with a mission to be all inclusive to all that is transgender and their allies. She is active in the advocacy for equality and is also a board member of the SC equality.
So no matter who you are, if your trans, gender queer or a loved one of someone that is, you are welcomed. If you’re in S.C. or live in the low country part of S.C., bring yourself on out and know you are not alone.
I’m positive by time you leave, you too, will be purring like a cat.
C.A.T.S; For details regarding our meetings or to obtain more information about the group, please email us at info@ChasAreaTSupport.org meetings are held every second Saturday of every month 7p- 9p
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