LGBT conference aims to uplift transgendered community at SF State

If you look at the concept of gender through black and white lenses, you’re missing out on the colorful array of ways to understand and express identity.

Although SF State is a welcoming hub for characters ranging from the taciturn to the flamboyant, there are little to no places specifically for transgender people to convene.

The second annual “Come Together: A Community Gathering for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People and Allies” event held Thursday, Oct. 13 will be a space for those who want to share their experiences and challenges with gender and identity.

Lexi Adist, a 20-year-old woman and gender studies junior, attended the event last year and found the environment to be welcoming.

“It was a really great space to see a lot of transgender and gender non-conforming folks be able to come out and enjoy themselves and feel safe and included,” Adist said.

Adist identifies as transgenders. She came out about a year and a half ago after experimenting with drag and realizing how comfortable it made her feel.

She said gender is a complex concept and as someone who is transgender, she is fighting against the traditional social construction of gender roles and norms.

Dina Redman, a founder of SF State’s Student Success Program said that gender identity is fluid and not a rigid construct.

“We’ve been socialized to think that you are either male or female, but in fact the ways in which we relate to concept of gender can be infinite,” Redman said.

Redman, along with other faculty members, came up with the idea for the event last year while brainstorming ways to participate in National Coming Out Week.

She said she had experience working with students who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming. She recognized that they didn’t have any campus organizations specifically for them.

“Sometimes that ‘T’ gets tacked on to the ‘LGB’ and there can be similar issues but also very different ones, and students would sometimes feel as if their own concerns were not being addressed,” Redman said.

As a result, the event was created to address, through brief presentations, concerns of the community but also to create unity with a group of people who feel disconnected on campus.

Although there are no transgender specific communities on campus there are spaces geared towards the queer community. Graciela Mesa is a 21-year women and gender studies junior and member of the Queer Alliance, whose door on the second floor of the Cesar Chavez building is open to all students on campus. She said that having a place on campus where students can feel comfortable with who they is necessary, even in a city like San Francisco.

“Ideally we wouldn’t need a specific space to feel safe but it’s important for people who do feel like they’re not safe and do need extra support, or who are confused to have somewhere to go to that is always open and available for them,” Mesa said.

As a member of the organization Pride at SF State, Adist recognizes that there are transgender-friendly places on campus but she does not think that SF State’s transgender community is very prominent.

“I think there’s still a lot of work to be done for that visibility to happen, but I think that we’re moving in the right direction, so I have a lot of hope for this campus,” Adist said.

The event is informal and free for anyone who wishes to stop by HSS 254 from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday.

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