April 16, 2017

TRUTH: Creative Leadership

We transgender-identified people are whole human beings with interests, hopes, maybe students or employed, hoping to contribute, play the ukulele, and be loved.  We are all more than our public bathroom choice.

Let us show something of our identity that expands understanding and connection--make a poster, a poem, song, painting or video celebrating your unique humanity

Soon, I will be able to tell you of free Arts & Crafts supply kits and a possible $250 stipend provided for 10 of your submissions.

October 6, 2015

Postpone & Build

ITL has to postpone the fall launch of Train the Trainer (TtT).  TtT, as an idea, has been in the pipeline for about a year and a half.  And, for 6 years, we've launched new programs for the Fall.  But, last Fall, we started to strip down our organizational structure for a re-build.  When one of our co-founders received a terminal cancer diagnosis, that re-build didn't happen.

We have Peer Mentors with enthusiasm; we have excited new youth who have registered for TtT; but we are short of enough staff time and energy to carry the program right now.

It is a radical and powerful idea to give youth the tools to re-write Trans Cultural Competency training.  That training is presented in hospitals, corporations, and non-profits every day all over North America.  It teaches service-providers who we are and what we need as trans people.  But trans lives have changed so much in the last ten years, the training must also change.  I want to put that in your hands.  I will put my 20 years of training experience behind your new presentations of what people need to know.  Together, we will be a powerful agent of change.

In order to provide a better program for you, ITL will: 
  1. postpone the program launch;
  2. recruit more adults and youth to staff ITL; then
  3. emerge with a powerful, well-aligned team.

Please accept our apology for this change in timing. 

Bobby Peck
ITL Financial Coordinator

September 10, 2015

Train the Trainer by the Initiative for Transgender Leadership is a hands-on program where trans youth (16-26) are teamed with experienced professional trainers so they can build the skills to provide Trans Cultural Competency trainings to the greater community. Trans youth will be paid for their time while they create new training models/content and develop the confidence to provide trainings to nonprofits, healthcare offices, and businesses. 

• Adult mentors will work as volunteers
• Youth will be paid $15/hr while learning and creating content
• While providing community trainings youth will be paid $20/hr
• The program will start on October 17th and end on May 31st
• It will take 32 hours to complete
    • 20 hours of learning and creating content
    • 12 hours of providing community trainings

Those interested are encouraged to text TtT to (412)-848-4054 or to email transleadership@gmail.com with TtT in the subject line for more information. 

June 10, 2015


Hello youth, donors, transgender individuals, care providers, teachers, mentors, and generally interested readers,

Please allow me to explain why it has been a year since we have engaged with you here.  In June of last year, Madeleine Hershey, our Instigator and co-founder, was diagnosed with lung cancer.  I am saying it to you plainly because Mad's death may stop you from smoking cigarettes, stop you from starting again, or help you support someone else as they quit. Mad was remarkable and committed to you knowing how remarkable you are.

When last we posted, ITL had just completed a 10 month Peer Mentor skill and knowledge training followed by a celebratory commencement.  We then collaborated an Internship with Garden of Peace Project and allowed ourselves some rest while caring for Madeleine.

Madeleine Hershey, our magnificent friend, Instigator, co-founder, and skilled mentor died January 2015.

Now ITL re-emerges.

There are many exciting directions for our fresh work to take.  Our line-up of possible projects includes the opportunity to create an internship in collaboration with New Voices Pittsburgh, initiate Phase II of our Peer Mentor Program, offer more Transgender Cultural Competency Training via a Train the Trainer methodology, and provide small grants to transgender youth for professional and leadership development.

I, Bobby Peck, ITL co-founder and financial coordinator, request you consider how you will participate in this next chapter of empowering transgender youth (gender independent, gender queer, gender pioneering, and other descriptors I do not yet know).

May 14, 2014

Announcing: Peer Mentorship Program Commencement

Please join Initiative for Transgender Leadership as we celebrate our Peer Mentorship Program for Trans Youth Commencement!

Sunday June 1st from 1-4pm

The Alloy Studios
5530 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh 15206

Free | Refreshments Served | Accessible Venue

Hear direct from the Peer Mentors as they share their art, philanthropy and insights. Over the past 8 months, seven local trans* youth ages 17-26 have been meeting regularly to discuss topics of importance to them, tap into resources in the community, build friendships and explore what it means to be mentors.


Please share this post and the Facebook event page with your contacts, especially trans* youth.

Hope to see you there!

(412) 573-9784


December 26, 2013

TransPride Pool Party Review by CJ

[Ed. note: follow us on Facebook for timely updates! www.facebook.com/pghtransleadership]
December 15, 2013
When we were younger, my little sister and I looked alike. (What does this have to do with a pool party, you ask? Bear with me.) Even when that was no longer the case, poor Lizz frequently would get called by my name, especially by teachers who had previously had me as a student. Lizz once complained about this to our junior high band director, Beth. “I never had that problem,” Beth replied. “CJ never said two words and you won’t shut up!”
As hard as it might be to believe, I was a rather quiet kid, just like Beth noted. It was my way of dealing with all of the teasing that came my way at school: I retreated into my own little world of books and music, where no one questioned my gender. While I started coming out of my shell in high school, I still avoided social situations like parties. It was too exhausting to be constantly on my guard, watching everything I said or did, feeling like everyone watched me constantly. Thankfully, I had friends in college who coaxed me into joining the world and going to things like Swing Dancing Club.
Even with all of the progress I’ve made in the last few years, I still get apprehensive about going to events where I don’t know anyone. So when I got a Facebook invite a few weeks ago for TransPride Pittsburgh’s Pool Party, I didn’t reply right away. I had been invited by an old friend, so I knew that there would be at least one person I knew, but the old feelings of apprehension and fear of large crowds made themselves known, too. The next day, I RSVP’d as a “maybe”, thinking that there wasn’t any reason to say one way or the other until the day of the event, and secretly thinking that I probably wasn’t going to go.
As the date of the event got closer, though, I started to feel like maybe I should just go. After all, life was a bit hectic, and swimming has always been a great de-stresser for me. I also started thinking about how, as a member of the Peer Mentorship Program, I had to attend one trans-related event outside of the designated meetings. The pool party fit the bill, and I figured that, if worst came to worst, I could at least get a good workout out of the deal.
Finally, the day of the event arrived. I was a bit nervous, but more excited than anything else. I had a buddy, too: Rayden also came, and I drove the pair of us. Actually, it was a good thing Ray was there: The club where the party was held is up in Wexford, and the directions I had included a turning that we missed. Thankfully, Ray’s smart phone saved the day and got us where we wanted to be.
We arrived as the club was shutting down for the night; TransPride had arranged for the party to take place after normal business hours. While I’m not stressed anymore about being around cisgender people, I know that this arrangement was a big relief for others. Although, I was grateful because the timing meant that the locker room was pretty empty, making changing into my trunks a lot less worrisome. By the time Ray and I made it out to the pool, several other people were already there, chatting away. Introductions were made, and things went on from there.
By the time we left almost two hours later, about twenty guests had shown up. Not a bad turnout, considering it was the first time an event like this had been held. I got in a fair bit of swimming, but I also caught up with a couple of old friends and met some new people. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to get to know them better at the next pool party.
Speaking of which, here are the details for the event:
TransPride Pgh Pool Party- Swim the Winter Blues Away!
Sat Feb. 22nd
$7.00 per person (no one turned away for lack of funds)

Join us once again to swim at the Oxford Athletic Club in Wexford.  Everyone is encouraged to bring some food to share and ride shares will be organized to help facilitate travel to and from the OAC.  

More info: 

October 8, 2013

Peer Mentorship Program Update -- Still Accepting Members!

The current 5 Peer Mentors voted to do another round of outreach to connect with more trans* young people in the area who are interested in the program. Below is the new campaign.
Looking for an opportunity to change lives? (Including yours!)
Are you trans*-identified (anywhere on the trans* spectrum)?
Are you between the ages of 16-26?


We are a group of proactive and inclusive people who meet regularly to mentor each other, learn leadership skills and connect to resources.
We want to make a positive impact on our trans* community.
We value diversity in our trans* community and we welcome you.

We will meet 14 times on Sunday afternoons from Oct. 20, 2013 to May 18, 2014.
You will receive a small regular stipend, bus fare and lunch on program days.

Project Silk 810 Penn Avenue, 8th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

You can register immediately but last date to enroll is November 10th



Contact: transleadership@gmail.com or (412) 573-9784

August 31, 2013

Announcing: Peer Mentorship Program Kick-Off & Orientation Weekend

Initiative for Transgender Leadership is proud to announce our new
Peer Mentorship Program Kick-off Weekend for Trans* Youth!

Join us if you want to:
   become a skilled, connected and confident mentor to your peers;
   be part of a supportive and awesome group of people committed to making the world a better place for trans* youth;
   develop your professional and leadership capacities.

Come to our kick-off weekend October 4-6th where you will meet other local trans* youth, learn the basics of being a mentor, practice non-violent communication, eat great food and find out about ITL's Peer Mentorship Program to see if you want to join. Meals will be provided, bus fare is available, and the whole weekend is free! 

Location: ITL co-founder Madeleine Hershey will be hosting the Kick Off at her house on Aurelius Ave. in Swissvale. The house is handicap accessible.

Who is invited? The ITL Peer Mentorship Program is for people of trans* experience, ages 16-26. The program will benefit from a diversity of experiences, backgrounds and identities.  If you identify as trans*, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, or you feel you belong in this program, we welcome you. 

We hope that after participating in the kick-off weekend you will decide to commit to the full Peer Mentorship Program, which will meet for 20 3-hour sessions between October 2013 and May 2014. Those who choose to join the program will receive a small regular stipend, bus fare as needed, and lunch on program days.

The goal of the ITL Peer Mentorship Program is to produce a group of well-informed, confident and competent young trans* people who, by becoming experts in themselves, are ready, willing and able to provide information, mentorship and support to others in their communities.  The Peer Mentorship Program was designed by trans* youth and the ITL team to be participant-driven.  In other words: YOU decide what information and activities are priorities, and facilitate the program together with your peers. 


Have questions? Contact transleadership@gmail.com

We ask that you join us for all sessions

Friday October 4th
6:00-7:00pm Dinner 
7:15-8:00 Introduction to ITL and the Peer Mentorship Program
8:00-8:30 Sharing what you want to give and get from the program
8:30-8:45 Break
8:45-9:30 Icebreakers with Adil Mansoor
9:30 Close

Saturday October 5th
12:00-12:30 Lunch
12:30-3:00 Basic Training for Being a Mentor with J Wester
3:00-3:15 Break
3:15-5:15 Non-Violent Communication workshop with Dr. Judi Diven
5:15-6:30 Dinner
6:30-8:00 Participant-generated conversation: Program ground rules and language
8:00 Close

Sunday October 6th
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-2:30 Facilitation 101 with FEARLESS
2:30-2:45 Break
2:45-3:45 What's next? Hands-on workshop using Peer Mentorship Program manual
3:45-4:00 Choose whether to join the rest of the Peer Mentorship Program
4:00 Close


Have questions? Contact transleadership@gmail.com