In Conversation With The Queer Trans Project

In Conversation With The Queer Trans Project

The Queer Trans Project (QTP) is a shining example of how dedication and community collaboration can drive meaningful change. Founded by Cielo Sunsarae in 2021, this dynamic team of BIPOC LGBTQ+ members brings together a wealth of lived experiences and professional expertise to serve and uplift the queer community. In this conversation, we delve into the project's inception, the evolution of its vision, and the profound impact it has had on the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
Can you tell us a bit about the team behind the Queer Trans Project? What are they like?

The Queer Trans Project (QTP) team is a dynamic and diverse group dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community. Led by a core team of BIPOC LGBTQ+ members, the team combines a wealth of lived experiences and professional expertise, enriching their empathetic and authentic approach.

At the helm of QTP is Cielo Sunsarae, Founder & Executive Director. A visionary leader in LGBTQ+ advocacy and education, Cielo founded The Queer Trans Project in 2021, driven by a passion for equality and justice. Their dedication has earned them numerous accolades, including the Youth Voice For Equality Award by Equality Florida and the Louis Mitchell Empowerment Award. Beyond QTP, Cielo contributes to NASA's Astrophysics database of IDEA practitioners and is a certified sex educator, continuously striving to empower the LGBTQ+ community.

Alexis G. Williams, Deputy Director, is a dedicated advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and community empowerment. A founding member of QTP, Alexis has played a crucial role in its success. She also leads The LGBTQ Fertility Fund (LFF), supporting LGBTQ+ individuals and couples seeking fertility treatments. Alexis's commitment to reproductive healthcare and LGBTQ+ advocacy is evident in her creation of "Gender Grip," a gender-affirming tape that has revolutionized many lives. Her impressive achievements include holding the U.S. Congressional Award Gold Medal and engaging with various organizations such as the Jacksonville Young Democrats, ACLU Florida, and Beaches Habitat for Humanity.

The team is further supported by a dedicated board, over 80% of whom identify as transgender (and BIPOC). These board members contribute valuable insights, promote programs, and provide organizational oversight, enhancing QTP's ability to make a meaningful impact nationwide. 

What led you to start The Queer Trans Project, and how has your vision evolved since its inception?

The Queer Trans Project was founded by Cielo Sunsarae in Jacksonville, Florida, in Spring 2021. It emerged as a response to the limitations imposed by local queer organizations on LGBTQ+ individuals seeking essential resources, while they were battling dysphoria on their own gender journey. With a vision, a $500 grant, and a two-bedroom apartment, we set out to create an inclusive organization dedicated to addressing the dysphoria experienced by trans and gender non-conforming individuals, regardless of their demographic background. Since our inception, our vision has evolved to focus on broader systemic change, emphasizing intersectionality, accessibility, and long-term sustainability. We aim to build a society where queer and transgender people can thrive with affirming resources, without barriers.


How has the community’s response shaped the direction and growth of TQTP?

The community’s response has been overwhelmingly positive and instrumental in shaping our direction and growth. Feedback from those we serve has helped us refine our programs and expand our services to better meet the needs of our community. This input has led to initiatives like the Build-a-Queer Kit program and collaborations with partners like Elevated Access. The support and engagement from our community have driven us to continually innovate, advocate for greater inclusivity, and expand our reach to provide vital resources and support across all 50 states. In response to community requests, we are also introducing a disability early access program alongside our BIPOC early access program as part of our inclusion initiatives.

We’re thrilled to be a part of your Build-a-Queer Kit program—what inspired you to start it?

The Build-a-Queer Kit program was inspired by the need for tangible, immediate support for individuals exploring their gender identity. We recognized that access to gender-affirming items can be financially and logistically challenging, especially for those facing marginalization. The program aims to empower individuals by providing essential items that affirm their gender identity.


You include some amazing gender-affirming goodies in your kits. How do you think clothing and personal style play a role in self-acceptance and gender affirmation?

Clothing and personal style are powerful tools for self-expression and self-affirmation. They allow individuals to present themselves in a way that aligns with their gender identity, significantly enhancing their sense of self-acceptance and confidence. Gender-affirming items, such as binders, Gender Grip, breast forms, and packers, help individuals feel more comfortable in their bodies and more visible in their identities. By providing these items, we support the holistic well-being of our community, recognizing the importance of both physical appearance and psychological comfort in the journey toward self-acceptance. And it allows people to defy stereotypes, and explore who they are in a social way, and can be low cost.

Looking ahead, what upcoming projects or initiatives are you most excited about, and what broader impact do you hope to achieve?

We are excited about several upcoming projects and initiatives. One of the most anticipated is our expansion of the Build-a-Queer Kit program to include brand new items, health bundles, and a wider range of trans-femme gender-affirming products. Looking ahead, our broader impact goal is to create systemic change that improves accessibility and inclusivity for all queer and transgender individuals. We aim to set new standards for support and advocacy, driving societal shifts toward greater acceptance and equality.