On their fifth anniversary date, Genderbands will host their first gala celebration, Purple Soirée. The evening will include cocktails, awards, performers, and speakers and will raise money for their services to the transgender community.
Genderbands was started in 2015 as a non-profit group raising funds to help transgender men and trans-masculine people get top surgery. They have since started issuing grants to trans-feminine people as well.
Ian Giles, the founder of Genderbands says they are a transfluid FTM transgender person who knows what dysphoria feels like.
“I know how absolutely suffocating it can be to feel trapped in your own body, and I also know how life-altering top surgery is for trans men,” they said. “Genderbands began as a way for me to pay for my own top surgery, and proceeds did help me make that a reality. On July 16, 2015, I was able to receive top surgery from Dr. Charles Garramore.”
Since then, Giles has been raising funds to provide grants to those seeking surgery. Applications are taken at the group’s website, genderbands.org, and issued through the year.
They also offer free chest binders and educational resources on how to use them correctly.
Genderbands hosts many events for transgender people, their friends, and family, along with a Trans Pride. This year the event will take place on August 15.
Performers for the Purple Soirée
Ryan Cassata is an award-winning singer-songwriter, actor, performer, writer, LGBTQ activist, and motivational speaker based in Los Angeles who has been featured in GRAMMY.com, Rolling Stone, Billboard, and The New York Times. He was the first openly trans performer at the Vans Warped Tour and was praised by The Advocate as a “Transgender singing sensation.” Billboard Magazine called him a “true force in the music industry.”
Ryan was the focus of the award-winning documentary film Songs for Alexis and will make his feature-film lead acting debut in Two Eyes later this year.
Shea Freedom is a singer-songwriter who advocates for foster youth, human rights, and environmental issues. Freedom was raised in California’s foster care system where he was subject to 28 different placements. Like 68 percent of foster youth, he emancipated into homelessness. He has since found his home on stages across the nation, traveling via thumb and motorcycle. Freedom was awarded the 2016 Rising Star Award by Black Trans Men Inc.
Marina Marqueza is a nonbinary singer, songwriter, producer, and visual artist based in Salt Lake City. They are passionate about art as activism and an outlet for healing and make genre-fluid music from the bottom of their gender-fluid heart to affirm others who are marginalized in any way. Her debut album Orbit Pluto, released on New Years Day 2019 is available on all platforms and you can follow them on social media to keep up with new updates.
Poet Aidan Castro is from Dinuba, California, and a previous winner of a Genderbands grant. He is currently a first-year student at California State University, Fresno’s MFA creative writing program with an emphasis on poetry. He writes about his experiences being a transgender man, his childhood, and growing up in the Dinuba countryside. His poem “Hospital” won the 2018 Larry Levis poetry prize at Fresno State. He is a member of the Academy of American Poets. His poems have been published in Symmetry; Flies, Poets, and Cockroaches; the San Joaquin Review; and on poets.org.
Ian Giles will be giving remarks about the state of Genderbands and their growth from a fundraising project to an international service organization in just five years’ time. Giles champions the transgender community, while also navigating his own life as an out parent, geek, writer, and entrepreneur.
The Soirée will take place on March 28 at the Doubletree Airport Hotel in Salt Lake City, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets, tables, and sponsorships can be purchased at genderbands.org/gala.