Give STL Day Spotlight: Metro Trans Umbrella Group
By Ranen Miao
Community Investment Intern
The Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG) is the only nonprofit in Missouri serving transgender and non-binary adults with access to basic needs and social-emotional support. Through community, visibility, advocacy and education, MTUG’s mission is to bring together the community of trans, non-binary, genderqueer, androgynous, intersex and allies in the St. Louis region.
MTUG was originally intended to provide peer-to-peer support groups to adults, allowing community members of different gender identities to come together in supportive spaces to share their lived experiences and create lasting bonds. As they’ve grown, they’ve expanded into a community center space called “MTUG HQ” and increased the services they offer, including a food and hygiene product pantry, a free clothing closet, lockers for the unhoused and services such as bus passes and cell phones.
Since COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, MTUG has had to institute adjustments to continue safely meeting the needs of their community, many of whom are uniquely susceptible to the negative effects of the pandemic.
“The need for our community outreach program has exploded since the crisis began,” explained Executive Director Sayer Johnson. “We are taking calls for help from areas that do not have equitable access to health care resources and have been hit especially hard.”
Without their community center, MTUG has been taking orders online and delivering them through a volunteer network, along with shifting much of their operations — such as trans education sessions for local businesses and healthcare practices — online.
The public health crisis “made securing funds for our programs an even more urgent need than it was before,” says Anna Bilyeu, the group’s Lead Grant Writer. “For this reason, Give STL Day has become high-priority for our development team.”
Through updating the organization’s profile with the latest needs and programs, MTUG was able to raise over $2,900 for their future operations.
“Give STL Day has been a wonderful way for us to connect to the wider St. Louis community,” according to Johnson. Through finding additional funding opportunities and connecting with the larger St. Louis community, MTUG has been able to continue taking care of the people they serve and build on its work. In the future, the organization’s leaders hope to provide additional services and resources, such as housing and healthcare, to the trans community across St. Louis. As Johnson puts it, “we are creating history: experiencing and perpetuating liberation!”