It was our executive director Dr. Susan Byers from Atlanta, Georgia, who noticed in her work as a psychologist, how vulnerable and traumatized many members of the LGBTQPIA2 communities in the US and Canada are. Perpetuated stigma, exclusion, discrimination, bigotry and limited access to health care are continuously hindering these individuals to thrive in their lives and live their gifts to the fullest, simply because of whom they love or which gender identity they have. A lesbian with a history, Susan has witnessed the activism of the women’s movement, the first HIV/AIDS activists in the 1980s, and the fight for the legalization of gay marriage (having a happy queer family herself). She also observed profound trauma as well as a lack of resources and support groups/mentors/role models for transgender folks - including kids she is working within North America. Always ready to volunteer for the queer community,
Susan felt inspired to support transgender and gender-nonconforming people even more by setting up donation-based online support groups. This would have the advantage to be accessible across the borders of all 50 states and Canada! When Corona Virus hit the planet and everyone was stuck at home, Susan’s enthusiasm about her idea inspired several queer activists to team up. After hours of Zoom, Susan, supported by her long-term partner Betsy, together with Skyler Jay, Kohan and Micky, started their first support group, called 3 T – Transforming Trauma to Triumph, aimed at transmasculine and nonbinary individuals! (Send us an email if you are interested in joining!). Offering scholarships for trans-surgery was another big focus of Aadya Rising right from the beginning.
Soon after discussing their first ideas, the dream to set up a non-profit NGO unfolded. In a political climate that continues to deprive many people of their rights, it is never perfect but always the best moment to get active! We are therefore immensely proud that through some nighttime brainstorming sessions via Zoom, technical issues, and legal procedures, Aadya Rising Inc. is now officially recognized as a non-profit.
Our website was designed by J. Bailey, from Eagle Stream Media, who donated his precious time and knowledge to make this happen and launched on June 15th, 2020. Aadya Rising was born by and for the queer community. Aadya is all about empowerment. “Aadya” means “source” or “original power” in Sanskrit (the ancient language of India). We want to offer our community the necessary resources to unapologetically live their true nature and thrive as powerful and whole beings. As a peer project, we know what we are talking about because we have all lived through experiences. At the same time, we all have different experiences, and we listen to and learn from each other. We are from diverse backgrounds, we are lesbian, trans, queer, and nonbinary folks, and we are here to listen to you and your needs.
Founded in Pride Month of 2020, we are a young non-profit, currently eagerly working on several projects to make Aadya Rising even more valuable for the queer community. We find it important to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and our team member Kristen Lee, a licensed professional counselor, is soon starting a support group for black community members and people of color. Concerning our location, we are currently mainly active in Georgia and Tennessee, with the hope to expand across the US over time. Our team member Micky is based in Montreal, Canada, and we are hoping to expand our Canada chapter in the future. (Remember though that our online support groups are already available for all eligible people in North America).
Thank you for your interest in Aadya Rising! Stay tuned for our updates! Get involved, like our page, follow us, share the news, use our resources, spread the word! And: we rely on donations. Consider donating, invite others, or set up a fundraiser for Aadya Rising next time it’s your birthday! (PS: All donations are tax-deductible). We are looking forward to getting in touch with YOU.
INDIVIDUALLY WE ARE ONE DROP. TOGETHER WE ARE THE OCEAN.