The Rev. Carmarion D. Anderson is a trans woman known for many things in Dallas: minister, mom and activist.
Anderson grew up in Dallas in a strict Pentecostal family. She had a calling to the ministry at a young age, but she said her gender identity prevented her from ministering at the church she grew up in when she came out as trans to her family at 16.
She was kicked out her house and shut off from her church, as both her biological and spiritual family disowned her for acknowledging who she was.
“It made me a stronger person,” she said. “I knew that [the church] was my life, my passion, but I could no longer not be myself.”
Anderson then began her transition and remained active in her faith at other churches. She is now a minister at Living Faith Covenant Church and is the south regional minister for the national group TransSaints of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.
Her experience got her involved with Black Transmen Inc. She’s known its founder Carter Brown for 15 years and is the inspiration for the group’s creating an equivalent component Black Transwomen Inc, which will be launched at the organization’s second annual Transgender Advocacy Conference from March 13-17 in Dallas.
Anderson said Brown focused on the black male trans community because that was his life, but over time she recognized a need to expand the organization to include the trans sisterhood.
“It made a wonderful friendship,” she said about her and Brown’s love of activism. “I got involved because I believed there should be a balance in terms of the transgender community.”
Brown said he was excited to launch the women’s portion of the organization, which started last summer as a result of conversations about expanding the group’s reach.
He said the five-day conference is already larger than last year, with 221 people registered, compared to 186 people who attended last year. Those who attend will also experience a broader and more diverse conference, as workshops will span health and educational issues to how to be an LGBT ally and handling workplace issues. Night events during the conference will range from a talent show to a ball and pageant.
The focus of this year’s conference will build upon last year’s work, which inspired people to become leaders in their community. Now, Brown said the shift will be discovering who people are as leaders with the theme, “The Power of You.”
“Our focus is establishing a knowledge of who we are to create change,” he said.
Oliver Blumer, regional coordinator for Transgender Education Network of Texas, said most transgender conferences focus on primarily trans women without a focus on different ethnicities. He said attending the conference last year brought a different kind of excitement to a trans conference because of the diverse culture that’s represented.
“It’s a whole different feeling,” he said. “They [the organizers] bring a compassion to a community that’s less visible.”
Blumer said the conference isn’t just for trans people, encouraging family members, friends and supporters of the LGBT community to attend, as workshops will focus on several issues. He said City Council members and City Manager Mary Suhm should attend, as well as council candidates. People can register for one day or just the Saturday banquet March 16.
For more information about the conference, go here.