Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, and designed to create and provide affirming and culturally competent services for the entire LGBTQ community of Chicago. We aim to generate opportunities for ourselves, our families, our comrades, and our futures to engage in healing, community building, and the creation of kinship. We strive to educate, empower, and embolden each other through sharing skills, knowledge, and resources as we build towards the liberation of all oppressed peoples.
BSA is a vehicle to empower and elevate queer and trans voices, particularly those belonging to queer and trans people of color, to allow our communities a seat at the table on key decision making processes that impact the LGBTQ community of Chicago at large. By focusing our efforts on creating space and building capacity in three key areas, we aim to create opportunities for our communities to thrive unapologetically in their truths:
Health and Wellness – We see health as a broad concept encompassing the wellbeing of our whole persons, and our whole community. Trans people face unique barriers to living full, healthy lives. We combat these by providing trans-led and affirming space, promoting food justice through our community farm, and leading healthy cooking and eating initiatives with our harvests.
Leadership Development – We hold monthly workshops for TGNC community members of all ages for political education, job preparedness, campaign organizing and more, in order to ensure there are intergenerational opportunities for trans people to develop themselves and their community.
Visibility – We want trans people to be seen when, where and how they want to be seen. For us, visibility is about helping trans people share their stories and show up in action in ways that are determined by each individual on their own terms.
BSA pushes the language of "safety" because we understand that safety for our general society is a concept that actually oppresses us. We are revising our language, instead emphasizing the importance of bravery, because it requires bravery to confront the systems that deny trans people of color true safety. Our goal in using this framework is to help the TGNC community better understand and rise to the challenges of genuine dialogue for social transformation and justice.
As trans and gender nonconforming people of color leading a space for the broader LGBTQ community, we acknowledge structural oppression impacts our everyday lives and the lives of our allies. We are here to share, learn and grow in a place of love that is affirming of and accountable to whom we are and aspire to be. We hope that by creating such a space for ourselves, we can generate the tools we need to make similar shifts possible in our larger society.
In order to bring about the kind of world where all queer and trans people are loved, supported, and liberated from violence, we espouse these core political values as part of our long-term vision, and as platforms we intend to support through our organizing:
Prison Abolition (decriminalization)
Economic Equity (redistributing resources)
LaSaia Wade, Founder and Executive Director
LaSaia Wade is an open Afro-Puerto Rican indigenous Trans Woman, founder of TNTJ Tennessee Trans Journey Project, and member of Chicago Trans Gender Nonconforming Collective and the Trans Liberation Collective, and Director of Brave Space Alliance. Recently, she was honored at the Chicago LGBTQA Black History Recognitions ceremony and is the first Trans woman in Illinois History to be honored in Women's History month for the work she's doing not limited to community organizing. Her role in organizing ranges between and beyond as a central organizer for the Trans Liberation Protest Chicago, the largest march for trans rights in Midwestern history and being the Chicago chapter Mother for the House of Lauren. LaSaia graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Business Management from Murfreesboro Tennessee State University, has 10+ years of experience in organizing and advocacy work with black, indigenous, trans and gender nonconforming people around the world. She is the business owner of Mystical Bee Hive, and facilitates trainings across the U.S.
Stephanie Skora, Director of Policy and Operations
Stephanie Skora is a lesbian, trans woman, and anti-Zionist Ashkenazi Jew whose activist work centers around Palestinian solidarity organizing, queering Jewish spaces, and fighting for justice and liberation for all trans people.
She serves as a Chapter Leader with Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago, and is a co-founder and lead organizer for the Trans Liberation Collective in Chicago.
Stephanie graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016 with a BA in Political Science and Gender & Women’s Studies, with minors in Sociology and Queer Studies.
emem obot, Program Assistant and Organizer
emem (they/them) is an artist, community organizer and international activist from the South Side of Chicago. Their work focuses on political education and mutual aid work in Black, Brown, & Indigenous community. They focus on personal liberation through sex, dismantling gender binaries and learning from indigenous gender systems, race, class, and autonomy as individuals and a community. emem uses indigenous science and world perspective of Igbo cosmology, omenala as a foundation for the new world.
emem graduated from American University in 2018 with a BA in International Studies with a focus on the Latin American Region.