Building Trans Power: Reflections and Impact Report from the Trans Leadership Academy 2023 Program

The first Trans Leadership Academy (TLA) cohort celebrated graduation this past July, marking a momentous achievement for the program graduates and for trans leadership in Massachusetts! The TLA is a leadership and job-skills development program designed for BIPOC, low-income, and/or formerly incarcerated transgender and nonbinary adults with the overarching goals to build trans power and advance lived equity.

When MTPC conducted our Working for Lived Equity (W4LE) Community Needs Assessment in 2019, at least half of all respondents identified employment, housing stability and homelessness, and paying bills and emergency funds, as among their top 3 concerns regarding basic needs. Based on this report, we got to work to develop a program to create pathways to sustainable power-building.

Through the guidance and input from our Community Advisory Board, MTPC launched the three-month pilot program in Boston this past April with a 10-person cohort instructed by Kay Martinez, TLA Curriculum Developer, and MG Xiong, MTPC’s Director of Programs. Through relevant workshops and genuine connections, the TLA cultivated an educational environment that centers trans experiences and acknowledges lived inequities for transgender people right here in Massachusetts.

At the heart of the TLA is a holistic approach to empowerment. True social mobility involves addressing a range of needs, from professional growth to personal well-being. So in designing and operating this program, MTPC aimed to provide comprehensive support through weekly programming with learning sessions on employment readiness topics over group dinner, mentorship connections, and material/financial resources, fostering meaningful relationships at each turn. Included below are experiences from people involved in the Trans Leadership Academy Spring 2023 session and data points from our TLA 2023 Impact Assessment. These reflections will inform how we build up our program to prepare for the next Trans Leadership Academy that will tentatively launch in February 2024!

– A TLA graduate shared, “TLA has helped me grasp my skills and build confidence in those skills. Although I haven’t gotten a position during the program, I believe I have all the skills to ensure I can shift from [my current position] to more creative [and desired] work. I am super excited for the next chapter in my life.” 

– Another program member wrote, “Working with TLA has provided me with the courage, knowledge, and resources to take action and work towards a better life that is lived for myself and my community, instead of resigning myself to a life of struggle and misery. Were it not for the tools provided to me by this program I don’t know if I’d have the confidence to continue pursuing a career that won’t drain me of my joy, and to work towards my long term goals.”

– “The TLA was t4t (trans-for-trans) through and through. There’s an incredibly relieving and uplifting feeling that you get when you’re in a room full of people who you don’t have to explain yourself to, who get it… so much of trans joy is being with other trans people,” says Director of Programs, MG Xiong who co-instructed the Spring session. “Before content and materials and logistics and limitations, my priority was in making this space a generator for trans joy, to connect community members to one another, to meet lifelong friends and professional connections. And I think we did just that.”

– A program mentor shared, “It was obvious that an intentional community was built for the mentees that was really nourishing and energizing.” 

Education and Career Growth

– Of the participants who want to advance their education, 40% took initial steps towards advancing their education, mainly researching programs to apply to and compiling application materials.

– Of the participants who completed the final survey, 50% started a new job or internship during the program. Participants’ average employment satisfaction score increased from 2.33/4 to 2.67/4 by the end of the program.

Basic Needs through Financial and Material Empowerment

– At the beginning of the program, 70% of participants thought it was very difficult for them to pay for usual expenses within the last 30 days, including food, rent/mortgage, car payments, medical expenses, student loans etc. This financial instability decreased significantly to only 17% of participants at the end of the program.

– On a financial security scale of 1 being very difficult to pay for usual expenses and 4 being not at all difficult, participants’ average financial security at baseline was 1.3/4, which increased to 2/4 by the end of the program.

– 50% of participants at baseline were very worried that they would run out of food before having money to find more within the last 2 weeks. This percentage remained the same at the end of the program.

– On a food security scale of 1 being very worried about running out of food and 4 being not worried at all, participants’ average food security at baseline was 1.8/4, which increased to 2/4 by the end of the program.

– 30% of participants at the beginning of the program noted they did not have a steady place to live within the past 30 days, which decreased to 17% of participants at the end of the program.

– The financial stipend provided to participants allowed participants to partially cover their rent, bridge the income gap between job changes, and pay off previous debts. These actions both supported participants’ financial security as well as their mental health, knowing they had some steady income for several months.

– The provided bus pass allowed participants to easily access the program and previously set aside transportation money to be used for other expenses such as food.

– The provided laptop allowed one participant to take a job they otherwise would not have been able to take due to the need to provide one’s own technology.

Mental Health and Connection

– 22% of participants at baseline reported poor mental health in the last 30 days. Of those who completed the final survey, zero participants reported poor mental health within the last 30 days of the program. On a mental health scale of 1 being poor mental health and 4 being excellent mental health, participants’ average mental health at baseline was 1.88/4, which increased to 2.17/4 by the end of the program.

– Two participants who completed the final survey reported contacting new health care providers because of the financial, technological, or logistical resources provided by TLA.

– One participant noted “I really appreciated being around other trans people… I have not found a place I felt comfortable in more than one identity facet since college.”


– The assessment found mentor-participant meetings covered a wide range of topics. Common topics included discussing the intricacies of one’s identities; career development and growth, especially current workplace challenges or long-term goals; and personal life challenges, such as participants’ mental health struggles. Mentors also directly helped participants fill out forms or applications to access community resources or apply for jobs.

– One participant noted, “I feel that [my mentor] took the time to listen to me and fully understand my goals before offering [their] own knowledge. That created an ambiance of equality that made me feel safe to learn and also be curious and unapologetic.”

To learn how you can become involved with the Trans Leadership Academy, contact us at

If you are interested in providing financial support for the Trans Leadership Academy, please contact Kelsey at

BOSTON – June 21, 2023 – Namesake Collaborative and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) are thrilled to announce the launch of the Namesake platform to help transgender and nonbinary Bay Staters navigate the legal name and gender marker correction process as a part of MTPC’s Identity Document Assistance (IDA) Network.

This launch follows a successful year-long testing period during which over 100 community members provided incredibly important feedback, recommendations, and quality assurance to the development of the platform. These testers were able to utilize the platform to complete their legal name and gender marker changes. Namesake will continue to be a community-informed platform and welcomes further feedback and suggestions to adapt to users’ needs and the frequently-changing requirements for legal name changes and correcting identity documents.  

“In 2019 when we asked our community what they needed in our ‘Working for Lived Equity’ community needs assessment, nearly 80% told us that their top legal need was assistance with legal name and gender marker changes”, says MTPC’s Executive Director, Tre’Andre Valentine. “Knowing this, we made it a priority in our most recent strategic plan and I am so excited to share this new resource with our community as a part of MTPC’s ongoing work toward lived equity for all trans and nonbinary people in the Commonwealth.”

Legal name and gender marker corrections can be an important step for many trans and nonbinary people seeking to affirm their chosen names and gender identity. However, in the most recently published US Trans Survey, almost 70% of trans and nonbinary people reported that their identity documents do not reflect their correct name or gender. These disparities can impact an individual’s safety when engaging with law enforcement and access to lines of credit, bank accounts, and safe housing and employment.

“So often, technology and systems are built without considering trans and nonbinary people, or even actively excluding us, which is so significant considering how they govern our everyday lives”, says Namesake Collaborative founder Luke Lennon. “I’m proud that building Namesake has been and will continue to be a trans-led, community-collaborative effort. My hope is that folks feel seen, supported, and affirmed throughout this process, both by the tech itself and the people behind it.”

The Namesake platform is the newest addition to MTPC’s IDA Network, which also provides connections to pro bono legal resources and financial assistance with legal name and gender marker corrections. The fees associated with this process can exceed $400, which can be prohibitively expensive for many trans and nonbinary people. MTPC helps cover or offset these costs to create more access to corrected identity documents for all trans and nonbinary people in Massachusetts. For more information about Namesake, the IDA Network, or MTPC, please visit


About the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition works to ensure the well-being, safety, and lived equity of all trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive community members in Massachusetts. They educate the public, advocate at state, local, and systemic levels, and through collective action, they mobilize the community, engage in capacity building, and advance community wellness and prosperity.

About the Namesake Collaborative:

Namesake is a trans-led platform that helps the transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive community manage their identities, starting with the legal name & gender marker change process. With Namesake, users can easily navigate complex paperwork and systems in order to take control of their legal, financial, and medical futures. Reach out to learn more at


I stand on the shoulders and backs of those who came before. Trans people, black and brown people, who risked their lives in their unapologetic authenticity, in their flamboyancy, in their pain, in their trauma, in their complexity, in their resistance, and dare to dream bigger because we deserve better…we deserve more.

Pride is a complex nature; too much leads to arrogance, and too little leads to feelings of worthlessness. We as human beings are also complex in nature, we come with a multiplicity of identities, histories, and experiences. When I think about Pride, I think about complexity. The complexity of being a person of color and seeing only representations of queer whiteness. The complexity of being a trans person and seeing only cisgender representation and recognition within the LGBTQIA+ acronym.

The complexity of having to prove to the cis-hetero world that we are deserving of safety, equality, equity, and love; but our queer love isn’t safe when our lovers and partners are abusive. The complexity of MTPC being the oldest active trans advocacy organization in the nation but it took 18 years of literal blood, sweat, tears, and lives for Massachusetts to fully protect trans people under the law.

The complexity of the joy in being who you are and loving whom you love in the face messaging that tells you, you are not welcomed.

Pride is not only a celebration. It is also a protest—a resistance to that very message. Because who you are in all of your imperfections is more than enough, it is a gift. And love, in all forms, of self and others is a wondrous splendid thing! The concern should never be for who you love but for HOW you love.

I am deeply grateful to all those who have gone before, our ancestors, our elders, our living legends. And I honor all of those who risked their lives living, dancing, regaling, and fighting in the margins so that I may be here today to utter these words to you… Happy Pride.

In Love + Trans Power,

Tre’Andre Carmel Valentine (he/they)
Executive Director, MA Trans Political Coalition

Alejandra Caraballo
Trans Activist Award

Alejandra Caraballo (she/her) is a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic where she focuses on the intersection of gender and technology. Prior to joining the clinic, Alejandra was a staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and a Staff Attorney at the LGBTQ Law Project at New York Legal Assistance Group. In her spare time, she can be found playing guitar, building computers, creating electronic music, and brewing beer.

Ashton Mota
Trans Excellence Award

Ashton Mota (he/him/el) is a proud Black, Dominican-American student and transgender advocate from Lowell, MA. He is a bright, comical, compassionate eighteen-year-old who believes that spending time with family and friends brings out the very best in himself. Ashton’s advocacy began in 2018 at the age of 14, when he became one of the faces of the “Yes on 3” campaign to uphold gender identity protections in MA. In 2021, he partnered with The GenderCool Project to co-write A Kids Book About Being Inclusive to help educate others and share his story. He now travels the country giving speeches and advocating for trans young people. Ashton’s work with the GenderCool Project that resulted in the opportunity to introduce President Biden in June 2021 at a Pride Month ceremony at the White House.

Kimm Topping
In Service Award

Kimm Topping (they/them) values LGBTQ+ youth leadership, joy, and education. They’ve worked with grassroots organizations in Boston for over 10 years, including The Network / La Red, Trans Resistance, Building Audacity, and currently as the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students Manager with the MA Commission on LGBTQ Youth and DESE. Kimm is the author of Generation Queer, the first collection of illustrated biographies about queer and trans youth activists forthcoming in 2023 from Tu Books / Lee & Low Books.

Today is International Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV) – a complicated day for many trans people. Visibility can mean being seen and understood, but it can also mean being vulnerable, unsafe, and threatened. This is particularly true as trans and nonbinary people are facing such a tidal wave of anti-trans sentiment, legislation, policy, and media coverage, most prominently in the US and UK, but also throughout the world. These threats to the well-being and very existence of trans and nonbinary people can make visibility dangerous and completely inaccessible. This means that people may not “come out” as trans or nonbinary or they may try to hide their transness in any number of ways. First and foremost we want to say to our trans and nonbinary community – no matter how visible you can be or want to be – you are trans and you are loved and we’ve got your back. 

For many of us who are very visibly trans and/or nonbinary, visibility is not enough. It has nearly been ten years since Laverne Cox was the subject of Time Magazine’s infamous article “The Transgender Tipping Point” in 2014 and it feels like we’ve reached the opposite tipping point–the other end of the bell curve. We are not only heading backward, but further past that tipping point to a place even more actively hostile toward and deadly for trans and nonbinary people. Visibility only goes so far and if we don’t move from visibility to action, we will continue falling back down the curve.

For this reason, many have called for changes to the way we recognize TDOV to include action, resistance, and more. Because these things are necessary. Because these things come for other people, but rarely for us. Because we can no longer stand to watch our friends, siblings, partners, families, and community members struggle, flounder, hurt, and die. We refuse to idly let someone’s life be destroyed or ended simply because they are different; simply because they chose a life of freedom, self-love, and trans joy.

We’re at the opposite tipping point right now. We must find a way to stop this momentum before we reach the point of no return. And it is coming, whether or not you choose to ignore it. We beg you–don’t ignore it–our lives are worth so much more than your comfort.

One of the many ways you can join the movement to push back against this surge of anti-trans violence and sentiment is by supporting for trans, by trans organizations such as MTPC. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for to get involved—join us now!

To our beloved trans and nonbinary community,

Once again, our resilience is called upon to see us through. I must admit I’m at a loss for words as our community and loved ones face increased attacks from the recent bomb threats at Boston Children’s Hospital to the horrific mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs on the eve of Trans Day of Remembrance. Their terror is aimed at erasing us. It is devastating to witness. My heart aches for those who have lost their lives so horrifically and those who loved them fiercely. I am with you all in collective anger, grief, and exhaustion. 

Safe spaces are few and far between for queer and trans people. Dance floors, bars, clubs, and other nightlife spaces have historically been one of the primary places our community has gathered, learned and taught, organized and fundraised. Most importantly, it’s where we’ve found connection to community, our chosen families and friends, and the freedom to be ourselves; it’s where we’ve found love.

Make no mistake, the shooting at Club Q is a direct result of anti-trans rhetoric spewed by leaders and influential decision-makers who champion the criminalization of gender-affirming care, tout barring trans youth in sports and banning LGBTQ books in schools and libraries, parade their guns, advocate for loose gun laws and incite terror by threats and calls for violence. This abuse against the trans and nonbinary community is strategic and calculated. Like an abusive partner, they mean to isolate us, make our lives smaller, make us distrustful and exist only in the shadows, or not at all. It is the purpose of abuse: to break the spirit. And yet, we persist. Our authenticity and love for each other cannot and will not be held prisoner. This is what scares them about us, the freedom we found in being ourselves.

MTPC would like to extend our deepest condolences to the chosen family, friends, relatives, and communities of those who have been lost at the hands of senseless transphobia, queerphobia, and gun violence. I know that some of us aren’t afforded the space to process or grieve, but I hope you all have people around you to hold close and lean on. May we continue to live fully, boldly, and courageously. 

In trans power and love,

Tre’Andre Carmel Valentine

The Colorado Healing Fund (CHF) is collecting donations directly in response to the Club Q shooting. CHF provides a secure way to donate to victims of mass violence in Colorado. 

If you need support, please contact one of the following resources.

A photo of MG from the waist up, wearing a blue and white plaid shirt with a red tie. The top of their hair is bleached. They are standing in front of a large green plant.

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) announced today that MG Xiong (they/them) will be joining the MTPC team as the new Programs Manager. In this role they will oversee the development and launch of the Trans Leadership Academy, the IDA Network, and MTPC’s partnership with Namesake Collaborative.

MG is a Hmong trans non-binary Bostonian who was born and raised in Alaska. They have organized in community-oriented engagement on trans and queer rights, gun violence in underserved neighborhoods, and anti-racist education. MG has served youth and adults alike, building community between generations, cultures, and identities. They are a recent graduate from UMass Boston who spent their undergraduate education researching best practices for fostering belonging for gender non-conforming individuals in spaces of learning. Outside of work and service, MG enjoys cycling around the Charles River and parenting their kitten, Atlas.

The Steering Committee and MTPC’s Executive Director, Tre’Andre Valentine are very excited about the continued expansion of the organization. “MTPC is in a period of rapid growth and transformation and I am so excited that it has brought MG to our team.” said Tre’Andre. “Their empathetic and mindful approach to this work will bring a welcome infusion of energy and expertise to our programs and community engagement work. Welcome, MG!”

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition works to ensure the wellbeing, safety, and lived equity of all trans, nonbinary and gender expansive community members in MA. We educate the public, advocate at state, local and systemic levels; and through collective action, we mobilize community, engage in capacity building, and advance community wellness and prosperity.

Posted on May 10, 2022.

MTPC is excited to yet again be co-presenting a number of films at Boston’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Wicked Queer.

Trans Short Films: The Pursuit of Happiness
April 10 at 12:00pm
The Brattle Theatre
It’s the human condition, and for trans folk, it’s a heroic act by definition. Here are 10 stories about us from the perspective of the quest for human happiness.
Curated by Diane Griffin.
– Bros Before
– Sed Saepe Cadendo
– Karina’s Suit
– Birthday Boy
– Long After Us
– My Own
– River Fork
– Transformations
– How Not To Date While Trans

My Emptiness and I (2022)
April 10 at 6:00pm
The Brattle Theatre
This film is presented with English subtitles.
Raphi is young, androgynous and naive. In Barcelona, she begins a gender transition as well as an arduous journey to find her true identity. Co-written by and starring Raphaelle Perez, this is the narrative follow-up to director Adrian Silvestre’s ground-breaking hybrid doc SEDIMENTS, featuring many of the same trans performers and artists. We are super pleased to present to our WQ audience, the Sundance hit, My Emptiness and I. Director Adrian Silvestre will be present.

Framing Agnes (2022)
April 16 at 6:30pm
Bright Family Screening Room at the Paramount Center
In 1958, a young trans woman named Agnes entered a study about sex disorders at UCLA to get the gender-affirming care she needed, by any means necessary. Her story was long considered to be exceptional until never-before-seen case files of other patients were found in 2017. Directed by Chase Joynt (NO ORDINARY MAN) and featuring an all-star cast of transgender artists and performers, FRAMING AGNES uses re-enactment and genre-blurring storytelling techniques to breathe new life into previously unknown people who redefined gender in the midcentury. Featuring Angelica Ross, Jen Richards, Zackary Drucker, Silas Howard, Max Wolf Valerio (Gendernauts, Max), and Stephen Ira.

Dressed in Blue (Vestida de Azul) (1984)
April 17 at 3:30pm
Bright Family Screening Room at the Paramount Center
Antonio Giménez Rico’s stunning portrait documents the lives of six transgender women living in 1980s Madrid during Spain’s post-Franco makeover into a constitutional monarchy. Through wide-ranging conversations and interviews, the women discuss their experiences of nightlife, family, sex work, the legal system, and their personal narratives of transition. In a historical moment that witnessed a dramatic expansion of legal rights and political representation, their stories are an indictment of the repressive, transphobic institutions that remain entrenched in Spanish society. Featured in the hit series Veneno and the subject of a book-length history by Valeria Vegas, this provocative but nuanced portrayal joins a wave of rediscovered and reconsidered documents of trans lives in cinema. WQ is please to present a new restoration print of the groundbreaking documentary filmed in 1983 by Antonio Giménez-Rico.

Wicked Queer: Boston’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival (formerly the Boston LGBT Film Festival) was founded in 1984 by film programmer George Mansour. Wicked Queer is the 4th longest running LGBTQ+ Film Festival in North America and is an all volunteer organization. Our mission is to build community and to celebrate Queer storytelling and filmmaking through the uplifting of voices and stories not yet heard and to present and preserve the vibrancy of our histories.

On International Trans Day of Visibility 2022, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is announcing the launch of our Identity Document Assistance (IDA) Network and our partnership with Namesake Collaborative to better support trans, nonbinary, and gender expansive community members in New England who are working to correct their name and gender on legal identity documents. Nearly 80% of respondents to our 2019-2020 community needs assessment listed identity documents as one of their top legal needs. Read Namesake’s press release about our partnership.

While not everyone needs an attorney’s assistance, this is a very overwhelming and complicated process that can take many months or years to complete. This is why we are partnering with Namesake Collaborative, a trans-led, Massachusetts-based business, to create an innovative and affirming new platform to streamline this process for our community. Namesake will provide on-demand guidance and support that will allow the IDA Network to have a broader reach than other identity document support programs. It will additionally reduce the strain on pro bono legal services that are likely unnecessary in many cases. We plan to launch a pilot of Namesake in Summer 2022. Initially, Namesake will only be available to residents of Massachusetts but we anticipate expanding to other states in New England as soon as 2023. If you are interested in being a beta tester for the Namesake platform or finding other ways to get involved, please follow the link below.

The second major component of the IDA Network is the Financial Assistance Fund which helps cover the fees associated with this process for those who cannot afford to pay. These fees can exceed $300, which does not including postage, transportation, passport photos, legal assistance, and so on. If you are able, please consider donating to the Financial Assistance Fund to provide much needed assistance to our community.

While the IDA Network does not currently provide legal representation or legal counsel, we do provide references to appropriate legal resources, most of which are free. Learn more about the IDA Network.

If you are a lawyer or legal agency that would like to join the IDA Network and provide free legal assistance to the trans, nonbinary, and gender expansive community for identity document corrections please contact MG Xiong!

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition works to ensure the wellbeing, safety, and lived equity of all trans, nonbinary and gender expansive community members in MA. We educate the public, advocate at state, local and systemic levels; and through collective action, we mobilize community, engage in capacity building, and advance community wellness and prosperity. Learn more about MTPC.

Posted on March 31, 2022.

See the official press release here.

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) celebrates its 20th Anniversary with the 11th Annual Professionals for Trans Rights (PTR) business community fundraiser, held virtually on June 16 at 7:00 PM. The event features Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley who will be awarded with one of two 2021 Carl Sciortino Trans Ally Awards. Representative Pressley will speak about what being an ally means to her and her vision for continuing to support the trans community in Massachusetts and beyond.

There are an estimated 42,000 trans people in Massachusetts. Over the past two decades, MTPC’s work has been critical in securing and defending civil rights for trans, nonbinary, and gender expansive people in the state. Today, MTPC focuses their efforts on retaining those rights and continuing to fight for lived equality for trans people with a recent focus on employment concerns. “Massachusetts was a battleground state for trans rights years ago and today when a majority of states are debating, voting and removing trans rights, we are able to focus on helping trans people thrive,” said Executive Director Tre’Andre Valentine. “Pride Month is a great time to celebrate our achievements, yet there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Sadly, one of this year’s PTR awards, the Inaugural Trans Activist Award, will be presented posthumously to Jahaira DeAlto. DeAlto was a leader and a chosen mother to many in the Massachusetts trans community. After opening her home in an act of kindness, DeAlto was killed in May. In just the first half of 2021, trans people have been murdered at a rate of more than one per week in the US with 27 known deaths.

Other highlights at the event will include the second 2021 Carl Sciortino Trans Ally Award presented to Michael Cox of Black & Pink Massachusetts and the Inaugural Trans Excellence Award Honoree, Gunner Scott, MTPC’s first executive director.

The event is free although donations are encouraged. For more information, please visit or email