Darrien McWatters found Team Trans Ice Hockey, an all-transgender and non-binary hockey team based in Massachusetts, via a Facebook group a couple of years ago and hasn’t looked back since. As a transgender female and hockey player, she has begun to develop a local chapter, Team Trans Okanagan, in hopes of bringing a local tournament to Western Canada. We had the opportunity to connect with her about her hopes for this local chapter and how she’s raising support and awareness along the way.
How did the idea of Team Trans Okanagan begin?
I learned about Team Trans Ice Hockey through a Facebook group I’m part of with the women’s hockey league and [Team Trans] posted about hosting a gathering in Madison, Wisconsin in April of 2020. I started a GoFundMe to be able to get myself down there to be part of this international team and got everything covered so I thought… Why don’t I start a fundraiser and donate this extra money and more to LGBTQ youth programs… And then I thought, why not make this bigger and start a local chapter? I knew some of the people already involved in Team Trans were from the Kelowna-area, so our goal was to put on a tournament out West and build an actual chapter using the Team Trans platform.
This is now your second annual fundraiser for Team Trans Okanagan, what made you decide to host these events?
With the first one I was able to raise $1,500 for local programs and sponsor a bursary at the High School I went to which is awarded to identifying students or an ally promoting the LGBTQ community to be that much more inclusive. I wanted to keep the momentum going and not knowing what events would look like this year I decided to do an online auction to open it up to as many people as possible. This year I have a goal of raising $10,000 and even more LGBT youth programs throughout the province that I want to be able to donate and bring awareness to.
Why is it important to you to raise support and awareness for LGBTQ+ youth in BC?
Being transgender and growing up almost all my life in Summerland, having been married with kids, and failed relationships… I remember being very confused about who I became as an adult. I was able to pour my guts out to a good friend of mine a few years ago and she presented some terminology for me and life started changing from there. Maybe just maybe if all this knowledge was there as a teenager, what would life have been like? It’s so important to understand at a younger age and change our perception of what gender is from youth up. If we learn there is an entire spectrum of orientation and genders, we have a better platform to understand human beings.
What programs is the silent auction supporting?
We’re still supporting the bursary as well as Etcetera Youth Group, RADAR Youth Penticton, and Friends of Dorothy Langley Youth Hub. If I can get close enough to my $10,000 goal there’s another youth program in Maple Ridge I’d also like to support.
How can the community support your event and these LGBTQ+ programs you're raising money for?
There are forty items to bid on, you can make a donation, and if you do either of those things you’re eligible for a weekly prize draw! I want to grow the reach and amount of bidders so if you’re able to share the auction or reach out to more people that’s great. We’re only on week 2 out of 5, so there’s lots of time to bid until October 12th. These programs are important to support, even if it’s snacks after school. With the pandemic, lots of programs are unavailable and youth need a place to be among their peers.
Bidding has begun! You can join the silent auction, browse the items including a Big White Ski Resort package, Seattle Kraken NHL package, signed hockey merchandise, and so much more by heading here. Or, consider donating to the fundraiser to help support Etcetera and many other LGBTQ+ youth groups in Southern BC.