The program, led by SisTers PGH vice president (and Thomas’ fiance) Aiden James Nevils, has been in the works for months. The original plan was to launch on International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31), but when that event couldn't happen in person, Nevils still wanted to launch it virtually.
"I was like, 'Hey, if we can't announce this at our Transgender Day of Visibility, we have to let people know this is a resource for them as well because people are looking to talk,'" says Nevils. "People are looking to have some type of connection in a time when we aren't really able to connect physically."
Nevils says he was inspired by seeing Thomas' leadership in the city as a trans woman and wanted to create a space for trans men in leadership positions, too.
BroThers operates under the wider umbrella of SisTers, and Nevils describes it as a branch off of the tree in the organization's logo, adding that SisTers will always be "the roots."
"SisTers PGH has laid the groundwork for what it looks like to have trans leadership in the city," says Nevils. "The thought process behind this is we also need to have trans masculine and trans men leadership in the city as well. And also have a group where all people can come together and talk."
A primary focus of the programming, especially while everything is virtual, is a support group for trans men and trans masculine people, where they can be open and honest about their experiences. Nevils says there aren't many resources or support groups specifically for trans men and trans masculine people — in Pittsburgh or anywhere else across the country. Even when there are, he says they often focus on the physical aspects of transitioning, like hormones and surgery, but not as much on the mental and emotional changes.
"When you start testosterone, there's a lot of different things that happen to your body, but no one talks about the things that happen mentally and how it works with your emotions and how you start to feel things differently," says Nevils, citing the importance of teaching people that taking testosterone is "not the end-all, be-all. It's not a cure."
In addition to the support group, BroThers will continue to provide many of the services offered by SisTers, including clothing and toiletries, emergency housing relief, financial assistance, and a post-surgery "after care" fund. It will also offer resources on reproductive health and justice for trans men and trans masculine people, like education taking birth control or carrying a child as a trans person.
The resources from SisTers and BroThers are especially important during the current pandemic, as they provide resources for a community that might not otherwise get help. For every marginalized group of people, the pandemic has further highlighted ways that governments and institutions fail to work for all people, including the trans community. Nevils points to the example of SisTers PGH's LGBTQIA Emergency Relief Fund (which has currently raised over $26,000) without which there might not be any relief fund geared at helping trans people in the city.
"When you think about the transgender community in its entirety, we're already marginalized and pushed outside the bounds of what is considered to be human," says Nevils. "This pandemic has shined a major light on how often trans people are forgotten about."
BroThers PGH is currently taking donations of physical supplies like masks and toiletries, as well as financial donations, which can be made through SisTers PGH.