On September 16, the Houston Transgender Unity Committee will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their annual Houston Transgender Unity Banquet. The Unity Banquet has become the largest transgender community event in Houston and is a night for transgender individuals and their allies to come together and honor activists in the Houston community. 

The event attracts more than 200 people including transgender community leaders, equality advocates, politicians, business leaders, and most importantly, younger members of the transgender community. 

“We have a lot of transgender youth that save up all year to come to the unity banquet which is really cool and means a lot, “ says Houston Transgender Unity Committee Chair Alexis Melvin. 

The banquet boasts a come-as-you-feel-comfortable attitude looking to make all attendees feel comfortable and accepted as one of it’s main priorities. 

“We want everyone to feel comfortable and make it a point to engage with each person, especially if he or she is sitting alone and may not know many members of the community,” says Melvin. 

Kevin D. Anderson will serve as emcee at this year’s banquet. Anderson is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The T.R.U.T.H. Project, Inc., an educational and community mobilization platform that utilizes social art to promote mental, emotional and sexual health.  

In addition to speakers, scholarships and grants will be awarded to members of the community. The purpose of the banquet is to raise money for outreach programs, Houston Pride activities, Houston DOR, and money for next year’s scholarships and grants. While raising money is important, according to Melvin, that is not the most rewarding part of the night. 

“We hear from young people that when they come, they look around and see transgender people, people with a transgender spouse, or a transgender family, all of whom are successful and it gives them comfort,” says Melvin. “For some, it is their first time seeing a successful transgender person and realizing they can be whatever they want to be in life by working hard. That for me makes the whole banquet worth it. It’s a really powerful thing.”

The Houston Transgender Unity Banquet will be held on September 16, 2017.