When Khris Goins, 35, couldn’t find the support he needed as a black transgender man in Columbus, he formed his own fraternity, Black Transmen of Ohio.
Goins said his group is one of the only organizations in the state exclusively dedicated to trans men and male-presenting non-binary people of color. For the past two years, he said his goal was to connect his community in Ohio and across the United States with vital resources and gender affirmation support.
“The whole mission is really to help our community find the help they need, to help them grow into stronger individuals through mentorship, and to provide space for them to just be themselves,” Goins said. “Bringing that visibility of who we are will give people the motivation to be authentic themselves or to know they’re not alone on their journey.”
TransOhio and Margie’s Hope, a Northeastern Ohio nonprofit group, will present Goins with the Living Heritage Award for his work as President of Black Transmen of Ohio during the Transgender Awareness Day celebration. of Cleveland on Thursday.
“Although Khris is relatively new to the community, he has already had a lasting impact here in Ohio that will continue to benefit the greater transgender community for years to come,” said James Knapp, president of TransOhio.
Create a Brotherhood for Black Transgender Men
In 2019, Goins realized the Stonewall Columbus transgender support group he attended didn’t help him the way he needed as one of the only black men there. Goins met Eric Coleman, Stonewall’s building attendant and a black trans man from Columbus, and the two began thinking about ways to better represent and support their community.. Coleman is now secretary of Black Transmen of Ohio.
“I was like, ‘You know, we can’t be the only two black trans guys here in Columbus, Ohio,'” Goins said.
With Coleman’s help, Goins began hosting “T-Man Talks,” a virtual support group for trans men and male-presenting non-binary people of color. The group still meets and is open to anyone from Ohio, who currently lives in the state or plans to live here.
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As the group grew and new members shared their own stories and struggles, Goins knew he and other members of the support group could step up and become leaders.
“They didn’t even know what resources or other things … were available to help them along their journey,” Goins said. “So we got together and thought, why not help them? With that, we created Black Transmen of Ohio.”
Before beginning this journey in 2019, Goins knew only one black trans man: Coleman. But now he’s connected with over 60 black and brown male-presenting non-binary or male trans people.
Since launching Black Transmen of Ohio in late 2020, Goins has connected men with free resources like hair clippers and vital gender-affirming care like emergency kits of free hormone replacement therapy supplies and essential hygiene products. Black Transmen of Ohio too co-hosted clinics on how to legally change names and gender markers for trans people with Equality Ohio, an Ohio LGBTQ legal advocacy nonprofit.
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Beyond Ohio, Goins said he’s helped trans men in Texas, Georgia, California, Iowa and Pennsylvania, helping them find local support and ways to fund surgery. gender affirmation.
Securing funding for top surgery, which removes breast tissue and makes the chest look more masculine, is one of the toughest jobs for transitioning men, Goins said, and Black Transmen of Ohio s strives to help other men in this part of their journey..
Goins said one of his proudest moments was when he helped another black trans man receive a grant from Black Trans Men, Inc. for her surgery after struggling for more than a year to afford it.
“He should have postponed for a fourth time, but he was able to have surgery last July after almost a year and a half of waiting,” Goins said. “It’s an accomplishment that I’m proud of, to have been able to help someone with this.”
Goins stays true to his values in Black Transmen of Ohio
Being a father and husband will always be a priority for Goins — he’s caring for his two sons and niece with his wife, Shonda — but he said he plans to grow Black Transmen of Ohio even further at the ‘to come up.
Goins hopes to eventually create a formal mentorship program, connect with trans youth, and continue to raise the profile of the black trans male community. As a man who didn’t know anyone else like him, exposure is important to Goins.
“I try to help my community the best way I know how, like I would want someone to help me,” he said. “A lot of what I do is for my community, but at the same time, it’s for me. I’m doing myself a favor because I’m a black trans man from Ohio.”
Goins said he knew Black Transmen of Ohio was a reflection of his character, so he had an obligation to serve his community well. On the organization’s website, the values of honor, integrity, trust, visibility and health are proudly displayed, influenced by Goins’ time serving in the US military, he said. he declares.
“I strongly believe that you do what’s right the first time, and you do it when no one is looking,” Goins said.
Goins honored at Trans Day of Visibility in Cleveland
Hosting Margie’s Hope’s first-ever Transgender Awareness Day celebration, President Monika Veliz said the 2022 events in Cleveland will align with the organization’s recent efforts to better support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) in the LGBTQ community. The nonprofit group, which supports non-binary and gender non-conforming people, will honor nine people on Thursday, including Goins.
Veliz said BIPOC is often overlooked or tokenized, but Margie’s Hope specifically honors the work of black and brown organizers, artists and educators on Thursday.
“As people of color, we rarely get the chance to really show off,” Veliz said. “I love all the trans lives out there, but there are parts of this community that are permanently stuck in the background, and if we don’t start doing something about it, that’s where we’re going to stay.”
TransOhio will present two awards on Thursday, including the Goins Living Heritage Award.
Thinking about who to recognize in the community this year, Knapp said TransOhio immediately thought of Goins.
“He sought not only to bring more visibility to the specific needs and concerns of his community, but to provide safe spaces and tangible resources where few existed,” he said.