Meet the trailblazing trans motorcycle club redefining brotherhood

“We’re just brothers. We show up for each other. It’s a brotherhood and a family”.

An Original Gents MC leather vest and motorcycle.
Image: Instagram: @OriginalGentsMC

The Original Gents Motorcycle Club (OGMC) was founded by Dakota Cole and Jami Ryan in November 2020, based in Kansas City. The group was started as a home for members of the transmasculine brotherhood, creating an accepting environment based on the principles of supporting the trans and LGBTQ+ community.

The OGMC manifesto, found on its website, cites the club as being based on positive, welcoming behaviour, and expects its members to always promote respect, integrity, peace and unity. 

The club’s name finds its origin in the belief that the members of OGMC were all born gentlemen, no matter what sex they were assigned at birth. According to the OGMC, being trans is only a “fraction of our identities and we wanted a name to reflect that”.

It is brotherhood that acts as the true root of the club, with Co-Founder Ryan saying “we’re just brothers. We show up for each other. It’s a brotherhood and a family”.

Unlike traditional motorcycle clubs, the Original Gents do not claim affiliation or territory in their practices. At the bottom of the club’s rocker patch, where in traditional MCs a location would be cited, it simply says ‘brotherhood’. 

The club is spearheaded by two presidents rather than by a president and a vice president. This move was taken to ensure balance throughout the workings of the club, to remove tiered hierarchy and to allow the structure of the club to reflect its ideals within; every member, no matter their title, has a voice. 

The Original Gents have regular rides, support LGBTQ+ events and lead the annual Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) in Kansas City. While it is not obvious that the OGMC is a transmasculine club, the TDOR ride is one example of being intentionally visible for those who cannot be.

Following the ceremony in 2022, the club read out the names of trans people who had been tragically murdered this year, followed by a moment of silence. The number of reported transgender killings in America has doubled in four years, with 32 murders to date in 2022. It is no question that the presence of an organisation like the OGMC is necessary within the trans community.

Founder and President Cole had always wanted to be a part of a motorcycle club but felt alienated by the culture of toxic masculinity that traditionally surrounds most biker organisations. Cole had felt that had he joined a traditional motorcycle club, he would have had to be stealth, compromising his true identity to ensure safety within these spaces – he refused. 

Cole proposed the idea of a trans motorcycle club on local support groups on Facebook and was swiftly joined by Co-Founder, Ryan. Through the Facebook groups, engineering technician Hunter Willis, now the Road Captain of the OGMC, and Ruben Castillo also got on board. With a small team assembled, the motorcycle club blossomed from an idea to a reality in quick succession. 

The OGMC now has an age range of 22 to early 50s and includes people from various backgrounds.

Saxon Funk, the club’s Junior Road Captain, had previously been a part of another riding club but was never able to fully connect with other riders who were straight and cisgender. Funk maintains that being a part of the OGMC has made a huge difference in the community.

Funk asserts “you don’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable or worry about being misgendered or somebody using your dead name”. The members of OGMC are bound by their shared experiences, despite their lifestyle differences: “you have things in common that you don’t with other people, like T and surgeries and just being able to talk about hardships”.

The OGMC isn’t the traditional outlaw biker club that comes to mind when one thinks of motorcycle clubs, but given the rise of anti-trans propaganda, there is a sense of rebellion in the stature of the club. Its fierce brotherhood stands as hard rebellion in the face of injustice that trans people are facing. The rewards of visibility outweigh the risks according to members.

Ruben Castillo recalls the hope he found in witnessing older trans men living their truth early in his transition and hopes that the OGMC can provide that comfort to other young trans people. 

With the club’s ever-growing social media presence there is the hope of other chapters opening across the states and the world in the coming years.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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