Jan B. is one of the people who started a trans group in Poughkeepsie called MHVTA. She’s been helping run the group since 2001, and I’ve known her for about that long. I used to call her “perpetual lurker Jan” on my very first yahoo support group, CDOD.
1) MHVTA is a nice group – how did you decide to start it? Do you have rules or guidelines, or are you making it up as you go?
Helen, thanks for the opportunity to answer these 5 questions. This is also a nice way to publicize our group so I want to start with a Shameless Plug:The Mid-Hudson Valley Transgender Association (MHVTA), a chapter of Renaissance, is a fairly new group. It was founded in May 2001 by Nikki and I. MHVTA serves the mid-Hudson Valley area of New York (the area north of New York City and south of Albany, from the Pennsylvania border on the west to Connecticut on the east). It’s an active group with regular monthly meetings near Poughkeepsie.
We were so frustrated that nothing was local. We had to travel forty to seventy miles to find a group, so someone said. “Well, just start it yourself (and they will come).” I had never been to a TG support group before but was pretty used to other types of support groups. We met in homes for four meetings and eventually found [an affordable] place to meet, with discreet off street parking.
It varies but there are around 20 dues-paying members who attend meetings. We have more than 100 members on our list server who are interested but don’t necessarily attend meetings. The membership requirements are that you are a TG interested to know more and we are open to the TG spectrum including family if they want to attend. We currently don’t invite admirers in but they sometimes sneak in when someone brings a friend. The members seem to appreciate the level of confidentiality and the one on one interviews pre visiting the group.
MHVTAâ€™s principal mission is to provide outreach and support for our members, their families, their friends, and to be active in the Transgender Community and the greater community of the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York. MHVTA is a non-discriminatory group which is structured to allow participation by all those who support the transgender community. We respect and support the right of free and open expression and the right to be treated as equals by society. We focus on providing an understanding peer support network for anyone who would like to be a part of it and to assist others who wish to learn more about the Transgender community, acting as a Transgender advocate to other groups and institutions in the Mid-Hudson Valley area. We welcome new people with sensitivity towards their fears and concerns that accompany revealing themselves to others. MHVTA aims to accomplish this through: Regularly scheduled meetings, social events, and frequent and open communication. For more information, you can check MHVTA’s website.
You can also find an interview with some members of MHVTA at www.tgforum.com (but you can go directly to the article if you’re a subscriber).