Many people have worked tirelessly to make transgender unity a reality for Houston. The Houston transgender community is a diverse group with unique personalities and needs. In the past these differences were much like road blocks which frequently interfered with progress in the areas of outreach and education.
Keynote Speaker, 15th Annual Houston Transgender Unity Banquet – April 14, 2007
The movement toward unity began as a visionary dream in the heart of Dr. Peggy Rudd who realized how much our collective body of talented people could accomplish if we held our hands and moved forward as one. She knew we could realize this dream even if we held tenaciously to our own personalities and life styles. The secret related to human respect for others who did not share the same needs.
In 1990 Peggy began to lay our foundation with a series of articles related to unity and diversity. Later as the dream began to crystallize she contacted Dante’s Restaurant in Houston and set a date for the first Unity Banquet, an event established to honor the concept of unity and respect for human differences. She contacted the leadership of the Texas T Party and asked for a meeting room where all representatives of the two groups, GCTC, the Gulf Coast Transgender Community, and Tau Chi, the local chapter of Tri-Ess, could make plans for the first Unity Banquet. There was no room available, but Peggy and Melanie set up chairs around their booth located in a noisy corridor at the convention in February of 1990. The noise did not hold back the enthusiasm for people like Rene Fenner who stepped up to the plate and agreed to take the message of unity back to GCTA and Peggy agreed to promote the dream at Tau Chi. Many approached the idea with some reserve, but the seed of unity had been planted, and collectively the Houston transgender community comprehended the magnitude of what had begun to happen. The community was feeling a union of parts, each different and unique, forming a complex undivided whole. The Houston transgender community did the math, and the whole really is greater than the sum of all parts!
The unity dream took a giant step forward in 1994 when Lilly Roddy and several other leaders in the Houston transgender community formed the Houston Transgender Unity Committee. The Committee is responsible for the annual Unity Banquet, participation in the annual Pride Parade and Empower and other events and projects.
The dream has continued to expand as new transgender groups have formed in Houston including STAG and TATS joining the existing groups of Tau Chi, and HTGA. All of these groups have representatives serving on the Houston Transgender Committee. In 2003 the Houston Transgensder Unity Committee established the Peggy Rudd Transgender Scholarship Fund. Proceeds from the annual Unity Banquet and other fundraising events will support the Peggy Rudd Transgender Scholarship Fund. The first scholarships were awarded to two transgendered individuals in 2005.