"We See You"


How the Hudson Valley Trans Forum Aims To Empower the Community

Hudson Valley Trans Forum

by Clare Trapasso


The annual Hudson Valley Trans Forum, which aims to empower and serve the local transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary communities, will kick off this Friday on a reflective note. The two-day event will begin on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The day honors those whose lives were tragically cut short due to violence.

The focus of the free forum is to build a safe and inclusive space that inspires pride and recognizes the needs of local transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary community members. The event will go virtual for the first time due to the pandemic.

“It can feel a bit like the world is against you when you’re part of the trans community,” said Shepard Verbas, assistant director of programs and services at The LOFT: LGBTQ+ Center. “It’s so important to know that you’re not alone, to know that you’re not making it up, to know that you don’t need to prove yourself to anybody to be who you are.”

“We see you,” said Verbas.

Hudson Valley Trans Forum

Participants can score makeup tips at an online MAC session, get legal updates affecting the community, receive pointers on how to come out to their families plus much more. The forum is open to teenagers as well as adults and service providers.

The first day will focus on educating allies about the struggles facing the trans community and how to provide more services for its members. Friday’s speakers will talk about how to build more inclusive spaces in schools, addressing health care needs and the barriers to receiving mental health services.

“The trans community is marginalized, disproportionally discriminated against, and in general access to services, like medical care, education, and employment advancement, is limited,” said Verbas. “There needs to be space where people who are not part of the community learn how to step up as allies.”


Friday’s forum will be followed by a Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony.

 "There's something powerful in having a full day centered around celebrating diverse gender identity on Transgender Day of Remembrance," said Verbas. "It grounds us in our fight and motivates us to stand up for each other."

Saturday will be all about empowering the trans community.

“It’s almost like Trans Pride,” said Verbas. “You have the power and strength inside of you to navigate a world that can be challenging.”

The final event of the weekend will be the Night of Resilience on Saturday evening. The second annual fundraiser will include music, dancing, and a special performance from award-winning drag king Maxxx Pleasure.

“It’s ending on a high note [even] knowing all that is out there and you are not alone,” said Verbas. “While there’s so much hate in the world, there’s also so much beauty and power in being trans and that’s a really important thing for people to know about themselves.”

Attendees can attend as many sessions as they like, although certain workshops may not be appropriate for those under 18. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link to the event.

For more information about The Hudson Valley Trans Forum, Day of Remembrance, or Night of Resilience, click here.