Community Spotlight: Angelle Maua
A Q&A with the founder of the Gender Phluid Collective.
By Jordan Daniels, Communications Chair
The Gender Phluid Collective is a resource hub for the San Diego BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Queer and Trans commmunity - particularly trans, nonbinary, and gendernonconforming folx - who need support and access to resources that aren’t easily accessible to them. Binders, bras, packers, support groups, and more, the GPC is a beacon of love and affirmation in San Diego. For this month’s Community Spotlight, Communications Chair Jordan Daniels interviewed Angelle (she/her/hers), the founder of GPC, about her work in the community, her inspirations, and her aspirations.
Jordan: What is the Gender Phluid Collective?
Angelle: The GPC is a collective of entities that provides support for Black and Brown bodies, whatever that looks like - if they’re transitioning, want to maintain transition, need referrals to healthcare, or support groups. Whatever support looks like, the GPC is prepared to help. If we can’t serve their immediate needs then we also have a network of people who can.
J: When did GPC come into existence?
A: It began by supporting my son in his transition when he came out in 2017, when we realized that there weren’t spaces or entities to support us that looked like us. A few months after my son's transition, we realized that we needed more support for regular check-ins. I also began to meet other parents like me who lacked support for their families. I remember googling Black and Brown trans help and nothing came up. I approached several LGBTQ+ serving organizations and each shot me down, so I started my own support group at Malcolm X Library with the help of Jimmy Lovett and Alan Bugg.
Our "Loving Body Program" was birthed after working with the San Diego Unified School District and Sophia Arredondo, who was handing out binders to kids at school. I saw the necessity in having tools on hand for those who need it. Agencies would have people fill out forms to get access and I don’t find that reliable. It took everything for someone to ask for help and how you want them to fill out a three page form, just to tell them you may not have what they need right now? That’s not helpful.
J: As a Queer person and as a parent, what did your son’s transition look like to you?
A: When he came out, it was a breath of fresh air. I’ve always been a Queer femme, but my background made me feel held to a certain standard as a woman. We didn’t have the avenues that kids have now - that my son has now - so I was happy that I was able to have conversations with him openly about who each of us are, and knew that there were tools to support him.
J: What has support looked like these past few years?
A: The biggest support was Our Safe Place in Escondido at first, which then shifted to Malcolm X Library. Both of them gave me a platform to do this work in Escondido and in Southeast San Diego. Out of Our Safe Place’s relationship came a connection with South Bay Youth Services and San Diego Youth Services, which helped me do some work in Golden Hill. We've also worked with the San Diego LGBT Community Center on several events, like the Black LGBTQ Town Hall last year. Much work still needs to be done, but we’ve really worked on relationship building with the existing agencies here in San Diego.
J: The Town Hall was the first time I saw so many Black folx at The Center at once. It was amazing as it was hard. Much of the community doesn’t have a strong relationship with the queer agencies down here. How do you navigate the tension as a project serving Black and Brown communities and working with the institutions that have historically done harm to these communities?
A: I’ve been called names, a sell-out, or told that I’m not about our communities, and I get it. I get it. But somebody has to put in the work to mend the fence with the organizations here. Dragging them isn’t going to help, so how do we work together? Mind you, it’s not easy. We’ve had to have frank conversations, calling leaders in and holding them accountable to doing work with our community. We need their support
J: What does the future of support look like for the Gender Phluid Collective?
A: I would love to see our community heal together to create intentional, lasting change. I want to see consistent healthy dialogue, support and collaborations - not just when someone dies or is hurt - but all the time. It looks like reaching more Black families and having them access us more. I would also love to have a sponsor that can help pay our volunteers, which they deserve, for the work that they do. If we could create a budget to support volunteers and our services, that would be amazing.
J: Why the name Gender Phluid Collective?
A: I wanted the name to be something different, inclusive, and memorable. I didn’t want it to be one avenue, so we used Gender as we’re all navigating our gender identity. Fluid because we’re all fluid. Some folx may wake up feeling masculine, or feminie, or neither as well. It’s a time to say “I see you.” The “Ph” instead of “F” in Phluid was an expression for the chemical balancing of your identity and your expression.
This article has been condensed for clarity. To learn more about the GPC or support their work. You can visit their website here: https://thegpcollective.wixsite.com/thegpcsd