Named after a trans teen with Down Syndrome, Finn’s Place at Galileo Church is available for gender divergent and trans community meetings
DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
Tracie Quinn describes herself as a cisgender, heterosexual woman. So why was she so eager to get Finn’s Place up and running, and why is she so excited about managing the new event space for transgender and gender diverse people?
“I have a 16-year-old trans kid,” she explained.
The situation in Texas right now is “scary for my family. We feel very threatened,” Quinn said, adding that “the community is under attack.”
But now in DFW, there is a refuge from the hate for trans people and their families and supporters. It’s called Finn’s Place, and it is located at Galileo Church in Fort Worth.
The church offered the space for Finn’s Place, said Pastor Katie Hays, because outreach and support for the LGBTQ community overall is part of the church’s mission. Quinn described the arrangement as an integrated auxiliary ministry of the church. But, she said, Finn’s Place is not a religious space, and everyone is welcomed.
Hays explained, “Our church has been engaged in protesting discrimination and scapegoating policies for years.” But during the past year, she said, things have gotten much worse.
The space in the church’s facilities that has become Finn’s Place had been vacant for six months. During that time, people at the LGBTQ-welcoming congregation saw anti-trans legislation passed. Then, they watched as a governor who wanted even more discriminatory measures in place ordered Child Protective Services to investigate families providing medical care to their transgender kids.
So the church decided to offer something positive to a community that is watching its rights be stripped away.
“We’ll continue to protest where we see injustice,” Hays said. “But this is just a beautiful safe space.”
The space is named after a teen named Finn, who initially was known by a name and pronouns that matched the girl his parents thought he was.
Finn, who first came to Galileo Church in 2014, had Down Syndrome and didn’t communicate with words well. It took a while for him to make his family understand he was actually a boy. As soon as he did, his friends at Galileo Church adopted his pronouns and name.
Sadly, Finn died unexpectedly in 2018.
Hays said Finn was a dearly beloved part of Galileo Church and someone who will always hold a special place in her heart.
“He was one of the great teachers in my life,” she said. “He had purity of heart and knew who he was supposed to be.”
The website for Finn’s Place includes a tribute its namesake: “Galileo Church remains grateful for the bravery and generosity he demonstrated, teaching all those around him to trust people when they tell you who they are.”
So far, three groups are taking advantage of Finn’s Place’s offer of free space for a private event or a group meeting.
Trans-Cendence International meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at Finn’s Place. Queer Wave Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster, sponsors Talk-O Tuesdays each week from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with free coffee and conversation. Bring lunch if you like.
Proud Family Portraits uses the space to take gender- and body-affirming portraits so people can see their true selves reflected back at them in their portraits.
Finn’s Place is located at 5890 I-20 Service Road, Fort Worth. Exit 442A from I-20, on the south side of the highway. Turn onto Gilman Road from the frontage road. To book a space at Finn’s Place, visit FinnsPlaceTX.org.
The situation for trans youth
From Staff and Wire Reports
According to a survey released in September of 2020, there were an estimated 149,750 transgender youth ages 13-17 in the United States. About 13,800 those trans youth lived in Texas.
A study published in February of this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that, among 104 transgender and non-binary youths aged 13 to 20 years receiving gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones, led to 60 percent lower odds of moderate or severe depression and 73 percent lower odds of suicidality among those youth over a 12-month follow-up.
In other words, the study found that “given this population’s high rates of adverse mental health outcomes, these data suggest that access to pharmacological interventions may be associated with improved mental health among [transgender and non-binary] youths … .”
The study was conducted by Diana M. Tordoff, with the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle, Dr. Jonathon W. Wanta with the Departmen of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, Arin Collin with the School of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, Dr. Cesalie Stepney with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine the Department of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Dr. David J. Inwards-Breland with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Rady Children’s Hospital, and Dr, Kym Ahrens with the Division of Adolescent Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Over the last several years, trans youth have been under ever-escalating attack by right-wing legislators. In Texas last year, the Legislature passed, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed, a law prohibiting trans youth from participating in public school sports based on their gender identity. And in February of this year, based on a non-binding and widely-discredited opinion from Attorney General declaring gender-affirming medical care for trans youth to be child abuse, Abbott issued a directive to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services ordering Child Protective Services to launch investigations into families and medical professionals providing such care to trans children.
Abbott’s order, which also requires individuals designated as “mandatory reporters” to notify CPS of such medical providers and families, has been put on hold thanks to a temporary restraining order issued by a judge in connection with a lawsuit filed against the governor and the DFPS.
Right-wing lawmakers in Alabama went a step further. On Sunday, May 8, a new state law took effect making it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for doctors to prescribe puberty blockers and hormones to trans people under age 19.
Four Alabama families with transgender children have filed a lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Department of Justice has joined the suit. More than 20 medical and mental health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have also urged the judge to block the law.
The judge was expected to issue a ruling on the request for a TRO in that case sometime this week.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, there are signs of hope. Democratic lawmakers in more than a dozen states are following California’s lead in seeking to offer legal refuge to displaced transgender youth and their families.
The coordinated effort was announced earlier this month by the LGBTQ Victory Institute and other advocates in response to the anti-trans bills being considered and passed in Texas, Alabama and other states.
Openly gay California state Sen. Scott Wiener proposed legislation there in March which would reject any out-of-state court judgments removing children from their parents’ custody because they allowed gender-affirming health care. It also would make arrest warrants based on alleged violation of another state’s law against receiving such care the lowest priority for California law enforcement.
“We’re sick of just playing defense against what these red states are doing,” Wiener said. “We’re going on offense; we’re going to protect LGBQT kids and their families, and we’re going to build a rainbow wall to protect our community.”
Lawmakers in both Minnesota and New York recently filed refuge state legislation modeled after Wiener’s bill, and Democrats in other states plan to follow suit, including Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.
Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Institute, acknowledged that the legislation likely will fail in some states but said it was time to stand against the onslaught of bills targeting the LGBTQ community.
“This is our opportunity to drive the conversation and the debate, and to call on our allies proactively to step up instead of allowing ourselves to be targeted,” said Parker, who was the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major American city when she led Houston for six years.
Kim Chandler and Holly Ramer of the Associated Press contributed to this report.