Angelenos Building Community: Celebrating Gina Bigham, Trans* Lounge
Helping to build and empower the trans and non-binary community
Angelenos Building Community is a series of stories from a diverse range of Angelenos and the work they do in support of their community in Los Angeles. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is committed to uplifting the voices of community members who strive to create an equitable, accessible, and inclusive community for all.
Meet Gina Bigham (She/Her)
Gina Bigham is Program Manager of the Trans* Lounge at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and a woman of trans experience. She has been a Center employee since 2011 and has made her mark on the organization not only with the Trans* Lounge but also as the long-time lead organizer of Trans Pride L.A., one of the oldest and best-attended trans specific pride events in the country. Along with her work at the Center, Gina is also known throughout the community as one of the co-founders of WildSide’s Sin City Soirée. Founded in 2007 and continuing to this day, the Sin City Soirée is a week-long empowerment party in Las Vegas bringing together hundreds of trans individuals from all over the globe.
Born and raised in San Francisco and a Los Angeles resident since 2009, Gina adores spending time at the beach (#bikinilife) and quiet time at home with her cat, Trixxi. She is committed to empowering all that cross her path and making the trans journey as easy to navigate as possible for as many as possible.
Sam Eastepp (she/her or they/them) is the Major Gifts Coordinator at the Natural History Museums. She has supported the Museums in various roles for the Advancement division since 2016. She holds an MA in Medicine, Science, and Technology Studies from UC Irvine and a BS in Anthropology from Tulane University.
tell Us A Bit About Yourself. Did You Grow Up in Los Angeles?
I am a woman of trans experience and actually grew up in San Francisco. I moved to Los Angeles in late 2009 and in 2011 began my career at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Almost a decade later; I am proudly the Program Manager of the Trans* Lounge at the Center which has over 2,300 members and serves to empower and uplift the Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, and Non-binary (Trans/GNC/ENBY) community in Los Angeles and beyond.
Along with running the Trans* Lounge, I have also been one of the lead organizers for Trans Pride L.A. for the last nine years and have watched the event grow from just a couple of hundred attendees in 2011 to over 2,000 attendees in 2019.
And if that wasn’t enough, since 2007, I have organized an annual community-building / empowerment event in Las Vegas called the WildSide Sin City Soiree. What started in 2007 with just seven people had almost 300 folks attend in 2019.
Can you tell us a little about your job/career?
As the Program Manager for the Trans* Lounge, organizer of Trans Pride L.A. and the Wildside event, I am firmly entrenched in doing everything in my power to help build and empower our trans and non-binary community not just in L.A. but around the world.
All of the events I put on are made to uplift individuals. Where Trans* Lounge is an education and empowerment program that offers workshops, groups and social events to the Trans/GNC/ENBY community on an on-going basis; and both Trans Pride and WildSide are singular events, the goal is always the same. My mission is to bring our community together in fun and engaging ways. Whether it be stand-up comedy, yoga, voice feminization/masculinization or any of our other Trans* Lounge offerings, a trans block party for over 2,000 people or a week-long empowerment party in Las Vegas; my job is to bring Trans/GNC/ENBY folks together to forge a strong and safe path for them to express themselves openly and live their most authentic lives.
How do you incorporate community into the work you do?
Community is EVERYTHING for me and my programs. Every group, class, or event is created specifically for our very unique community in mind. I am in constant contact with the members of my program and our community members, in general, to find out what their needs are and how the Trans* Lounge can address those needs. When those needs are identified, I can put the amazing resources of the Center to help find a solution to the issue at hand.
Many of our instructors and group facilitators started as members of the program. They were so inspired by what they experienced, they come to me to offer their special skills and talents in an effort to give back to the community that supported them. So in many ways, the Trans* Lounge is for the community, by the community. For more info on Trans* Lounge, visit us at https://translounge.org.