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For transgender community, Las Vegas TransPride offers helping hand

For those who have made the decision, transitioning is an extensive but rewarding journey.

Still, in addition to medical and surgical processes, other steps are involved, some of which can cost a significant amount of money.

Changing a name. Updating your Social Security card and other forms of identification. An entirely new wardrobe — which is no cheap endeavor.

In Las Vegas, the nonprofit organization Las Vegas TransPride, in addition to celebrating and advocating for the community, assists transgender people with taking care of these practical things.

“For anybody who’s transitioning, we provide them with clothing,” said Jamie Lee Sprague, the founder of Las Vegas TransPride. “We don’t charge them for that.”

The organization is housed in the Las Vegas TransPride Center, located in a downtown Las Vegas building at Ninth Street and Gass Avenue, just north of East Charleston Boulevard.

The building also is home to the Affirming God’s People United Church of Christ, of which Sprague is the pastor. (Sprague was the United Church of Christ’s first ordained transgender woman.) A food bank and small thrift store also are located in the building.

On March 31, the center hosted its third annual Day of Transgender Visibility, which has been observed internationally on that date each year since 2009.

“Just for people to be reminded that we are here, we are in existence, and especially now, with this political climate that we have,” Sprague said.

In June, the organization hosted the Second Chance Prom. Unlike their high school prom, attendees could go to a prom as their genuine selves — instead of as a gender they didn’t identify with, or with a date they weren’t attracted to.

For a person born as a biological woman who is transitioning to become a trans man, obtaining chest binders that flatten the chest is also a necessity. The center also provides binders.

“If you get a young person that comes in and they’re having that dysphoria, once they put on the binder, you always see a flow of tears,” Sprague said. “That’s what keeps me going.”

While the Day of Visibility drew dozens of people, the Southern Nevada trans community is much larger than that, Sprague said.

But, she said, it’s difficult, for a variety of reasons, to get an accurate count of exactly how many transgender people live in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is such a transitional place, where people come and go, Sprague said. And some members of the community prefer to live as what is known as a stealth transgender person, which means they don’t disclose their gender history.

“We would never have an accurate count of how many are out here,” Sprague said. “I don’t think anybody’s ever tried to survey that. It would be nice to know.”

More information can be found at lasvegastranspride.org.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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