At Rae, we are on a mission to champion the well-being being of all, especially underrepresented individuals. In an effort to continue to support all communities to shine, we’re highlighting the work of Trans Defense Fund Los Angeles, a mutual aid group that provides transgender individuals in Los Angeles with safety resources and self-defense kits. We recently connected with the group’s organizer, Nikki Nguyen, to learn more about their efforts.

We admire your organization’s mission. Can you tell us a bit more about how Trans Defense Fund Los Angeles came to be?

2020 was a record year for trans people being victims of fatal violence. After three trans influencers — Eden the Doll, Jaslene White Rose and Joslyn Flawless — were attacked on Hollywood Boulevard in August 2020 with bystanders adding to the violence and police driving past the incident, I realized that something more needed to be done and that my trans siblings in Los Angeles needed to be armed with self-defense tools. We fundraised and were able to send out 200 kits to trans individuals in our first month.

Thank you for your work. How do you see the topic of well-being intersecting with your organization’s efforts on a daily basis?

In my opinion, well-being is a basic human right. With Trans Defense Fund, trans folks are able to have more peace of mind with self-defense items provided to them for free. This in turn helps folks’ well-being by lifting the financial burden of purchasing these items, and they can have a sense of security instead of fear which takes the stress off of everyday living.

With that in mind, how do you focus on your own well-being throughout the day while supporting so many others?

I’m thankful to have so much support with our organization, so there’s always someone to help in the event that something is too overwhelming for me or others on the team to take on alone. I make sure to set aside time for myself and to take a break off of the heavy things, even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. Physical activity like riding my bike, rollerblading or taking a HIIT or yoga class are the biggest ways that help me recharge.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

If you are a trans individual and would like to receive a kit, follow us on Instagram @transdefensefundla. And if you would like to get involved, feel free to reach out to us at at anytime with your ideas!