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Meghan Fairbanks Works to Connect Trans and Gender-nonconforming Houstonians

Meghan Fairbanks

Meghan Fairbanks’ journey toward becoming an out-and-proud transgender woman has ignited her passion to better the lives of those in the LGBTQ community.

“I came out about five years ago and quickly saw how dire the state of transgender rights is,” she says. “I knew I had to get involved to make things better.”

After discovering a passion for advocacy and activism in response to anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2021, Fairbanks has continued to advocate for LGBTQ rights and other social-justice causes. She is currently a board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and maintains memberships with Houston’s LGBTQ+ Political Caucus and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Additionally, she is a graduate of Equality Texas Equality Leaders program.

In 2022, Fairbanks founded Trans & GenderQueer Houston to provide transgender and gender-nonconforming folks with a place to socialize and network outside of the traditional support-group environment.

“I always wanted a group where trans people could come together,” she says. “Support groups existed, but they were only online. There wasn’t anything that was specifically a social event, so I just decided to start one. What I like about Trans & GenderQueer Houston is that it’s just a means for trans people to get together, socialize, and hang out. You can be together with other members in the community without the heaviness of a support group. Saying that, there’s definitely some peer support going on in our groups, but it’s mostly to just hang out, find friends, learn about resources, etc.”

Fairbanks personally finds the group meetings rewarding, and she gets inspired to make the group better when trans people approach her and tell her how appreciative they are.

“I came out about five years ago and quickly saw how dire the state of transgender rights is. I knew I had to get involved to make things better.” —Meghan Fairbanks

“Soon after I started the meetings, I had two people tell me this was the first time they had ever come out in public as themselves,” she says. “That completely floored me. Since then, I’ve had people tell me they had never met another trans person before coming to the meetings. I just had someone earlier this year tell me that attending these meetings was the first time they witnessed trans joy. All that positive feedback I get just makes me want to work harder to make these meetings better. There are so many wonderful people in our community, and I think the vast majority of us do a really great job of supporting each other. That’s the kind of stuff that gives me hope for the future.”

The Harris County Commissioners Court recently appointed Fairbanks and Diamond Stylz, another transgender activist, to at-large positions on the county’s newly formed LGBTQIA+ Commission, and the duo has pledged to protect and empower Houston’s LGBTQ community. The LGBTQIA+ Commission was established in 2023 to develop goals and coordinate research for recommended planning, programming, and action relating to the LGBTQ community’s progression and civil-rights protections in Harris County. While there’s only been one meeting since Fairbanks and Stylz were added as members, the two have already begun discussing plans for the commission and how to help the community.

Meghan Fairbanks (Photo by Alex Rosa for OutSmart)

“We had a really good meeting,” Fairbanks says. “We talked about priorities and discussed the needs of the community like health care, access to mental health, and engaging with the community.”

With so many LGBTQ groups scattered all across Harris County, Fairbanks says it would be great to coordinate with these groups and help bring them together through the County’s LGBTQIA+ Commission.
“We are wondering if there are any ways we can organize all these groups,” she says. “The Commission really just wants to make sure we listen to the needs of all members of the LGBTQ+ community. We want to do more. We actually have plans in place at the next meeting for there to be an opportunity for public comment.”

Despite all the trans injustice happening across the country, Fairbanks says she is still optimistic that change is on the way and better days are ahead for the LGBTQ community. She stresses the importance of getting out and voting, as commissions and support groups can only go so far in uniting the community.

“Vote—period,” she emphasizes. Get your friends to vote and get everybody you can to vote, because voter turnout in this country is honestly garbage. I think one of the things that harms us is voter apathy and people just feeling like their vote doesn’t count. Your vote absolutely counts. It’s the single most powerful thing that any citizen of this country can do. It’s a powerful thing to stand at that ballot box and have your voice be heard.”

For more information on Trans & GenderQueer Houston, visit tgqh.org

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Connor Behrens

Connor Behrens is a communications graduate from the University of Houston. He has written for the Washington Post, Community Impact Newspaper and the Galveston County Daily News (the oldest newspaper in Texas). When he's not writing stories, he is likely watching the latest new release at the movie theater.
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