The facility will provide a space for advocacy, skill-sharing workshops and art events.
The Human Rights Campaign has declared 2021 the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation with several bills becoming law in states across the country including Arkansas. Despite struggles faced by advocates fighting this legislation, Rumba Yambú, co-founder and director of Intransitive, is determined to end the year celebrating trans joy.
Intransitive will host the grand opening of the state’s first trangender community center Dec. 17. With the passage of legislation impacting trans Arkansans, Yambú says it became important to close out the year by opening the center.
“We’re still here and Arkansas can’t erase trans people,” Yambú says.
Formed in March 2017, Intransitive is a trans migrant-led organization supporting the transgender community by focusing on three areas of work — anti-violence, immigration and community building. Having their own physical space has long been a dream of the organization and that is becoming reality thanks to the purchase of a 1,750-square-foot building in southwest Little Rock.
After six months of renovations, the building now has some pink and blue bricks on its exterior. Inside, walls have been painted bright hues of yellow, blue and teal, and a stage has been constructed. The center previously housed a salon and Intransitive plans to use the space to teach people skills for doing hair and nails, as well as other activities.
“We plan to do a lot of skill-sharing workshops, do art, organize and provide advocacy,” Yambú says.
Intransitive’s goal at the start of 2021 was to increase membership, but that focus shifted with the start of the legislature.
“We didn’t come in thinking we’re going to do legislative work this year and then it hit and we just didn’t have an option whether to do it or not, we just needed to do it,” Yambú says.
Arkansas became the first state to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth in April. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit and a federal court blocked the law from going into effect in July. In addition to speaking out against the bill, Intransitive has supported trans youth and their families by providing assistance with groceries, emergency housing, trans-related care and relocating out of state.
Intransitive saw an increase in clients from the upper Delta and southwest region of the state in 2021, according to the group’s annual impact report. Sixty-six percent of clients were based in central Arkansas, but the southwest and upper Delta regions accounted for 2 percent and 11 percent of clients, respectively. The vast majority of people who received services were trans people of color with Black individuals representing 65 percent.
In addition to providing more help to trans youth, Intransitive also expanded services to include health insurance enrollment, harm reduction and HIV specific support. This was due in large part to hiring an advocacy and resource organizer that has years of experience in these areas.
Looking toward 2022, Yambú says they’ll again focus on membership with the ultimate goal of developing a membership that can help decide what type of work Intransitive focuses on.
Before that work begins, the organization is pausing to host a grand opening celebration from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday at their new community center, which is located at 10420 Helm Street. The free event will include music, before and after pictures of the space and “celebrating trans joy.”
“We want the space to have that, to have a lot of trans people, queer people or supporters in here laughing, dancing, eating,” Yambú says.
To help manage capacity, guests are asked to register for the celebration on Eventbrite.