Unity found in the Wichita Transgender and Community Network

Board members and supporters of WiTCoN. Photo by Robin Dorner.

by Kara Kliewer
Staff Writer

“I founded the Wichita Transgender and Community Network (WiTCoN) to provide support to trans people in Wichita,” said Brenda Way, WiTCoN’s Founder and Vice President.

“I wanted to build a community and help trans people gain confidence to live as their authentic selves. When trans people are sometimes marginalized within the LGBTQ+ communities I saw it necessary to try to bring unity within this larger community.”

Brenda Way, WiTCoN Founder and Vice President. Photo by Robin Dorner.

WiTCoN has come to provide just that to the trans community—unity.

Founded in March of 2015, the group has grown to become its own non-profit educational organization with nine board members and regular meetings.

“We now provide binders for trans men who cannot afford them,” added Way. “We provide cultural competency training for businesses and organizations. We have expanded our support groups to include the entire LGBTQ+ community.”

While expanding its functions, the group meets every other Wednesday to continue providing support groups to people in the LGBT+ community.

Over the last two years, more than 120 people have come through WiTCoN’s doors for assistance. More than half of the people in attendance are transgender (approximately 60 percent).

Through providing support, Way has seen the community WiTCoN provides bring the LGBT+ community in Wichita together.

“Our community has become a lot closer,” Way noted. “I have seen trans people in need of help reach out on our page and find roommates, places to live, rides and emotional support. Many of the members at WiTCoN have become friends and even a couple of relationships started at WiTCoN. Things that may not have happened without there being a place to go and be your authentic self.”

In addition to support groups, WiTCoN hopes to ensure that all members of the LGBT+ community feel safe going into their community and dealing with employment, housing, healthcare and similar needs.

“No other organization has a place where you can go and get information on LGBTQ+ friendly places spanning from houses to healthcare,” said Evan Shaheen, President of WiTCoN. “This has been a significant leap for Wichita.”

For those interested in checking out WiTCoN, the group posts information about meetings on their Facebook page (Wichita Transgender Community Network) and website (www.witcon.org).

Support groups start at 7 p.m. at the WiTCoN clubhouse in the Orpheum Theater.

Additionally, WiTCoN also puts on quite a few other events. To raise money as a non-profit, the group hosts a variety of fundraisers throughout the year. On November 16, you can catch the group at the Rain Café and Lounge for their bitchy bingo night.

“We’ve decided to be visible and put a face to the trans fight,” said Shaheen. “This has allowed us to be able to really have a say in policy about all of our issues. This, more than anything else, has been singularly important as we begin the slow march forward. We are here and our door is always open.”

Copyright The Gayly – November 22, 2017 @ 9:35 a.m. CST.