Assistant Professor of Queer and Trans Ethnic Studies Dr. Alan Pelaez Lopez poses for a portrait in front of the College of Ethnic Studies and Psychology at SF State on April 5, 2023. (Tatyana Ekmekjian / Golden Gate Xpress) (Tatyana Ekmekjian)
Assistant Professor of Queer and Trans Ethnic Studies Dr. Alan Pelaez Lopez poses for a portrait in front of the College of Ethnic Studies and Psychology at SF State on April 5, 2023. (Tatyana Ekmekjian / Golden Gate Xpress)

Tatyana Ekmekjian

Queer and Ethnic Studies Minor recognizes trans community in new name

The Academic Senate approved the name change in March for the upcoming Fall Semester.

April 10, 2023

Following a push for change from Race & Resistance Studies Assistant Professor Dr. Alan Pelaez-Lopez, the former Queer Ethnic Studies minor has a new name: Queer and Trans Ethnic Studies. 

“When I was interviewing for the assistant professor position to expand the Queer Ethnic Studies minor program, I was asked what changes I would make,” Dr. Pelaez-Lopez said. “I remember saying that I would add a trans studies core class to the curriculum because the specific needs of trans communities in the U.S. are not always the same as those of cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, and asexual communities.”

The idea of expanding the minor’s name comes as a result of conversations between Dr. Pelaez-Lopez and the Chair of Race and Resistance Studies Dr. Falu Bakrania. They then reached out to current students minoring in Queer Ethnic Studies to get their input.

“Everyone was supportive of the name change including all the faculty in Race and Resistance studies,” Dr. Pelaez-Lopez said.

The institutional process began as a result of continued support. Interim Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies Catriona Rueda Esquibel put Dr. Bakrania and Dr. Pelaez-Lopez in contact with Director of Strategic Initiatives & University Curriculum Coordinator Claude Bartholomew to pursue the name change.

The program change request form was filed on Sept. 16, 2022. Esquibel announced the name change at the Academic Senate meeting on March 14 and was posted on the college’s Instagram page the following day. 

According to the form, the expanded minor will begin to be offered in the 2023-24 school year. The curriculum will consist of 12 units.

“[The Department of] Race & Resistance Studies is revising the course descriptions for several classes to make their content more clear for both the students and the faculty,” Esquibel said. “Faculty had inherited a lot of classes from the 2000s and the course names and descriptions had never been updated.”

Although the name has been updated, Esquibel says the content expected to be covered isn’t anything new and is already a part of the Queer Ethnic Studies minor curriculum. 

“I want to emphasize that trans history and content was already part of the minor, but here we are making it more explicit,” Esquibel said. “One big part of history is how we describe people who pre-date particular contemporary identities. We’re trying to make sense of them using the terms right now.”

According to Dr. Pelaez-Lopez, the name change offers the opportunity for the topics covered to be expanded, and more catered to the community. 

“I also hope that this change is an opportunity for other faculty in the college to seriously consider transgender scholarship, especially for anyone teaching a class that critically analyzes gender,” Dr. Pelaez-Lopez said. “Through the change, I invite trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive students to approach faculty who teach classes in the minor and share what kind of scholarship they’d like to read in our courses and how might aid their intellectual journeys.”

Dr. Pelaez-Lopez sees the name change as a “commitment” to the community and hopes this is a stepping stone for other universities to make the same change.

“To add ‘Trans’ to the title of the minor is to make a firm and unquestionable political commitment to transgender studies, and transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive students at SFSU,” Dr. Pelaez-Lopez said. “I also hope that this shift in the curriculum can serve as a model for other CSU campuses that want to bring Trans Ethnic Studies to Ethnic Studies.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Jenna Mandarano
Jenna Mandarano, Campus Editor
Jenna Mandarano (she/her) is this semester's campus editor for Golden Gate Xpress, where she previously was a staff reporter. She is a fourth-year journalism major and business administration minor who anticipates graduating this coming May. The Bay Area is where she was born and raised, and she has no plans on leaving anytime soon. Aside from being a journalist, she loves going to concerts, watching professional sports and expanding her constantly growing Lego collection that she is also struggling to find space for.
Photo of Tatyana Ekmekjian
Tatyana Ekmekjian, Staff Photographer
Tatyana Ekmekjian (she/her) is graduating this spring with a major in photojournalism and a minor in hospitality and tourism management at SF State. Tatyana has a great passion for the culture, industry and preparation of food. She hopes to express her passion for food through the medium of photography to further her success in the food and lifestyle industry.

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