24 | Queer, Genderqueer, Transgender | They/Them/Theirs
Prin Ocea is passionate about environmental justice and creating safe spaces for the LGBTQ community, marrying the two whenever possible.
It’s one of the reasons they started Outside the Binary in 2016, a nonbinary peer support group that operates in Tampa twice per month and in St. Petersburg monthly. The group exists for the benefit of nonbinary individuals and Ocea formed it to fill a void. “I had been to trans support groups and I couldn’t relate to a lot of experiences of binary trans people as a nonbinary person,” they recalls. “I wanted a space to be able to talk about the issues I was having and have a community that understood what I was talking about.”
They meet in neutral spaces like Metro’s LGBTQ Welcome Center and hold monthly social and volunteer events as well. “Our most popular is a beach cleanup followed by a vegan and sustainable cookout where we compost our food scraps,” Ocea adds.
It’s a practice they cultivate with the Sustainable Living Project, an urban farm and education center in Tampa where Ocea volunteers as a compost coordinator. It’s there that they educate the community on the importance of composting food waste.
“It’s one of the most important ways we as individuals can combat climate change,” Ocea explains. “I help to manage the soil production for the garden, and we make this soil by collecting food scraps from the community and composting it in large, hot piles. By diverting food scraps from landfills, we are reducing the amount of methane gas, one of the most harmful greenhouse gasses that are pumped into our atmosphere.”
Before graduating from USF, Ocea worked diligently to make the college more inclusive. “The accomplishment I’m most proud of is the development of USF’s first LGBTQ+ Living Learning Community, a space in the residential halls that is now known as Stonewall Suites,” they says. It exists to provide supportive and inclusive housing for members of the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender and nonbinary students, which they struggled with while living on campus.
As a part time employee for Equality Florida, Ocea also assisted in developing the organization’s TransAction Leadership Academy. “My purpose in life is just to try to make the world a better place,” they says, “even if that is just for one person’s world.”