CATHEDRAL CITY – Thomi Clinton, one of the most well-known transgender residents and leaders in the Coachella Valley travels to Israel today, Oct. 24, to share her experience, knowledge and information so trans leaders there can adapt what she has learned to their culture.
Clinton is executive director and CEO of the Cathedral City-based Transgender Community Coalition. There are an estimated 27,000 transgender people in the Inland Empire. Transgender Community Coalition (TCC) devotes its time and energy to advocating for the transgender, intersex, queer, gender non-conforming and socially and politically under-represented members of the community.
Clinton’s trip, which will conclude Nov. 3, will help bring worldwide attention to the Coachella Valley.
It all came to fruition by happenstance. Or, was it fate?
Clinton was visiting with a Coachella Valley gentleman about fundraising and the need for money to purchase medical equipment for the nonprofit organization. In the course of the conversation, he told her of an organization called A Wider Bride. It is a North American organization working through education, advocacy, relationship-building and grant-making to create equality in Israel by expanding LGBTQ inclusion in Israel, and equality for Israel by cultivating constructive engagement with Israel.
“Israel is in the process of learning a lot about trans healthcare, how to provide it, and how to open up centers,” Clinton told Uken Report. “We opened basically on bare minimum, there wasn’t an enormous amount of funding, and they were really fascinated by how we did that.”
Clinton opened the Coalition earlier this year through fundraising, donations, contributions from cities, including Palm Springs and Cathedral City, and for-fee medical services. She operates the organization on a shoestring annual budget of about $175,000.
Trans leaders in Israel want to tap into her knowledge.
She will travel primarily to Tel Aviv and then to Jerusalem. Tel Aviv, Clinton explained, “is more of a liberal Jewish community, kind of like Palm Springs, whereas Jerusalem is an extremely conservative community. It’s very orthodox.”
The leadership of A Wider Bridge was fascinated by her story, her struggle, opening the Coalition and unexpected response it received.
“The enormous amount of support that we’ve gotten from the trans community is more than what we expected,” Clinton said. “We didn’t expect to be hit by so much, you know? But see, the trans community is invisible because most of us try to blend in. So, you really don’t know how much need is out there until you’re doing it. Once we had the space, it gave us a focal point where we could start channeling the energy and changing people’s lives.”
The intake forms in a box on the walls behind her are falling out of the box. And, those, she said, are only since May.
Her personal story, Clinton said, “is very long.”
In the interest of time, as clients were waiting, and she was trying to leave to prepare for an international trip, Clinton offered the abridged version of her story.
“My father was an Archie Bunker, so he was not very open,” Clinton said. “After my mother’s death he became a little bit more open. When I started transitioning here I was a gay boy. It was so interesting to understand misogyny. When I was a gay male, Thomi was ambitious, a go-getter, all these other things. When I transitioned to female, Thomi was backstabbing, she’s conniving, she’s manipulative, she’s overbearing, all these things.”
Clinton paused to let that sink in.
“My personality had not changed, just my body,” she said. “I faced a lot of misogyny here as far as just being female. I lost friends over it, even in the LGBT community. I lost friends over it.”