Openly gay rugby player Devin Ibañez launches fundraising collaboration to support Trans community

The first openly gay American Major League Rugby player Devin Ibañez has collaborated with queer Latino artist Richard Wilde Lopez to launch a fundraiser in support of the Transgender Law Center.

The Transgender Law Center fundraiser ( is an opportunity to support a trans led organization at a critical time for transgender rights. Currently, over 100 pieces of anti-transgender legislation have been introduced across more than 30 states in the USA in the past year. 

Multiple states have already passed legislation which criminalizes providing gender affirming care to anyone 19 years and younger. This will put not only trans youth at risk, but also the parents who support them as well as medical professionals who provide essential services. Other states have voted to exclude young trans women from school sports entirely and subject children to harmful and invasive genital examinations. 

“It seems that with increased visibility of the trans community, lawmakers have made it their mission to oppress and restrict the rights of trans individuals,” says Devin. 

“The fundraiser is a chance to show how much love and support there is for our Trans family and push back against the horrible rhetoric and policies spreading across the country. The depth of the potential harm of bills being pushed in various states is impossible to quantify. This is an attack on young trans women specifically, but also all young women by potentially subjecting them to the policing of their bodies based on others’ perceptions.” 

He goes on to say, “Trans trailblazers have been central to the country’s battles for justice, from racial equality to anti-fascism. We choose to stand with trans individuals in our shared fight for equality and civil rights. We can no longer sit idly on the side lines.”

I spoke to Devin recently to discuss his collaboration with Richard Wilde Lopez and what makes him passionate about protecting trans rights in sports. 

Kyle Jackson: How did the collaboration with Richard Wilde Lopez, and what made you two decide to work together?

Devin Ibañez: Richard (@thebrujologist) actually approached me after hearing me discuss the World Rugby ban of trans women from International Competition on the Race Chasers Podcast with Willam and Alaska! We had already known each other through Instagram as I was a big fan of his art and we shared a connection as two gay Puerto Ricans. He asked if I would be interested in partnering on a fundraiser together to help the cause and I said yes without hesitation!

We are both passionate about trans equality and decided to try and brainstorm a way to use his art and our platforms to try and support the trans community. During this same time, there was an unprecedented rise in anti-trans legislation and rhetoric across the US. 

We decided that supporting the efforts of the Transgender Law Center, which is the largest trans led national organization in the country, would be a great way to push back and support trans rights. They do incredible work providing legal advocacy for trans people in the workplace, and schools. 

They also run several community programs such as TRUTH which is a national gender nonconforming youth leadership and storytelling program that aims to build empathy, understanding, and a movement for youth to share their stories in their own words

KJ: What makes you passionate about Trans rights and protecting Trans youth in sports?

DI: As a gay man I often feared that my sexuality would exclude me from the sport I loved and alienate me from my peers. It was a fear that kept me in the closet within rugby for over 12 years. 

To see trans people’s identities weaponized against them as a way to justify their exclusion from sports is heartbreaking. For anybody to be marginalized and attacked over something they have no control over is unacceptable.

Trans people already overcome so many social barriers and policies to be able to participate in sports. We need to be finding ways to make it more inclusive, not fabricate reasons to discriminate. 

The positive impact rugby had on my mental health helped save me from thoughts of self harm and depression growing up. The LGBTQ+ community often struggles with mental health at a young age and the connections you make in sports can be life saving. Every child should have the opportunity to experience that and should not have to be subjected to their gender being questioned or scrutinized.

KJ: Besides providing financial assistance, what other benefits are you hoping to see from your campaign and activism?

DI: I am hoping that this will inspire hope in the trans community and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. I want to show that there are people out there who will always have the trans communities back and be willing to fight for them in the same way they have always fought for civil rights and equality. 

My fundraiser has gotten incredible support from the rugby community in particular. I wanted this to serve as a reminder that trans people have allies in sports and communities where they would least expect it. 

The recent annual survey by the Trevor Project found that amidst a year marred by negative media, a pandemic, and uncertainty, LGBTQ+ youth found hope in positive queer role models and visibility in the media. I am hoping that seeing our fundraiser and the love we have for the trans community with show young queer kids across the country that the future is bright for our community.

KJ: Do you have any other projects in the works? 

DI: Just yesterday actually I was named the Global Ambassador of International Gay Rugby! This was a tremendous honor and I am really excited to become more involved in the IGR community worldwide. 

My next big project will be trying to start my own inclusive touch rugby tournament and traveling to do coaching clinics and speaking engagements across the country. I want to show young athletes across the country that you can be yourself in the sport you love and live your life happily and without fear of ridicule.

If anyone has schools or youth programs they would like me to come speak to I would love to get involved! I am so grateful that I am in a position to share my experience with others and hopefully show them how much love and happiness awaits them in their futures.

Anyone with an interest in supporting transgender rights, especially businesses and members of the LGBTQ+ community who already actively support the trans community, can still donate to the Transgender law Center Fundraiser. The fundraiser was even publicly supported by Major League Rugby and the New England Free Jacks themselves. 

Devin has collaborated with Richard Wilde Lopez, a queer Latino artist living in Philadelphia, to create an art piece that represents strength and resilience within the trans community and their allies. Richard believes art is one of the most powerful ways of shaping social consciousness and seeks to use his art to lift the voices of those, who far too often are silenced, particularly the Queer and BIPOC communities. He has created this piece as a thank you gift to our donors.

Donations over $50 made by donors within the U.S. will receive an 8×10 print of the art piece created for the fundraiser by Richard Wilde Lopez. Devin is also using his own platform working with rugby and sporting organizations committed to equality and social justice. To confirm delivery of your gift, please contact Richard or Devin via email with a picture of your donation receipt and your preferred shipping address.

To see more of Richard’s work, visit

At the time of writing, the fundraiser has already raised $5,160 towards the initial $5,000 target. In light of this, they have raised their target to $7,500 to try and provide even more support to the TLC!

The fundraiser closes on June 5, 2021. To donate, please visit

About the Transgender Law Center

Transgender Law Center changes law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.

Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating for a world in which all people are free to define themselves and their futures. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation.

To learn more about the Transgender law Center, visit

Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.