Nashville’s trans community has been growing in visibility and awareness over the last decade, and compared to other mid-sized cities in the South Nashville’s trans community has a wealth of resources available to it.
For over twenty years, TVals has provided support to the trans community here, and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) has been advocating for greater protections for trans people. In more recent years, groups like activist organization TNTJ Project have emerged. Now a new group is set to launch.
Local entertainer Jordan Allen is starting a group called Tau Phi Epsilon (TPE) in Nashville. “I chose a Greek letter name for the organization because fraternities and sororities offer a place of belonging, a sense of family sisterhood and brotherhood that is lifelong. Also when you see a frat guys and sorority girls with letters on, you know they’re proud to belong to that group and what it stands for. I wanted to give our community that they could not only belong to but also they could be proud of.”
So, why another new group? Allen said, “I have attended events for many local groups—and they are wonderful groups and do great things for the community for sure—but I just did not feel like they fit the needs I had…. I feel there is a gap that needs filled for the young trans and non-conforming community, a social aspect that helps them to not feel alone, to guide them and help them feel proud to be who they are.”
Allen wants to emphasize community building; rather than having another support group he feels building a strong community around social functions will provide for the social “needs of young trans and non-conforming individuals between 15 and 35 who feel there is a desperate need for something that is geared toward the younger community. It is a new era for transgender, non-conforming people, and I feel it is the perfect time to stand together and give them a sense of camaraderie and belonging in the LGBTQ community. I also feel it is a great time for the LGBTQ community to embrace the T and Q of the community, and that is one of the missions of the group as well.”
Other groups have their place, according to Allen, and his group doesn’t intend to compete with them but complement them: “I will absolutely work with other groups. I feel like working together is the best way to accomplish anything. We all have our different aspects and different missions and different things that we want to accomplish. I feel like if we all were to work together we have a better chance of doing that.”
The group hosted a "coming out” kickoff party August 25 on the patio of Suzy Wong's House of Yum and included speakers such as Deception, Aurora Sexton, D Luv Savigon, Priyal Karecha, and Pursefonee Ophelia Bitz (Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) who discussed their journeys and shared their thoughts on why TPE is needed in Nashville.
Lucas Prescott and Allen discussed the group, its mission, and the purpose they hope it fills in the community. Tables were set up that provided information from groups like TNTJ Project, Gatlyn Dame Group, TPA and others.
Beyond the launch party, Allen has plans for a variety of programs. “The big picture is more than just the transgender and non-conforming community,” Allen says. He wants his group to encompass not just trans individuals but the important people in their social networks. “It is all of those people in their lives. We are also for their allies. Allies come in all forms from friends to partners to parents. We will have programming directly geared toward those groups of people to help them have a place to discuss what they experience and go through as well.”
Since socializing is a major component of the group, Allen plans to have boys nights out and girls nights out, as well as partner night out and other special events. “There is something to be said for being with and hanging out with people who are like you and understand your struggles and challenges,” Allen said. “So we plan to have bowling nights and cigar night for the boys, mani pedi days for the girls, etc. We want people to embrace and love who they are and be proud of it. We want to provide a fun, event driven group to all ages, as well as be a safe place to learn, discuss and educate.”
TPE will be the local chapter of the Gatlyn Dame Group, founded by Devin Dame and Gage Gatlyn. Allen has enlisted the help of many locals, who he says “will certainly be leaders in Tau Phi Epsilon. Lucas Prescott and Priyal Karecha have stepped up and really been working on getting it off the ground.”
The group will hold monthly meetings at OutCentral on the last Tuesday of the month, and all are welcome. The group, which is a non-profit, will also be planning fundraisers in the future. For more information about TPE and its activities, visit gdgroupnashville.wix.com/gdnashville, or contact organizer Jordan Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.