by Elizabeth S. Q. Goodman, PhD student
Many student groups have pitched in with Stanford Students for Queer Liberation to bring the events of Transgender Awareness Week to campus. This is the third year doing it, and every year is different. Last year’s week was discussed here and here.
The week begins with a “trans* 101” panel, designed to introduce everyone and anyone to the experiences of the panelists, to give space for questions, and to give cis students (those who are not trans*) tools to use in supporting trans* folks. We call that “being a trans ally”, but as many people will tell you, ally is not a thing you can be, it’s a thing you can strive to do. The tools of allyship are a theme throughout the week and this post.
However, we believe that to focus only on the oppression that transgender people face will firstly not serve transgender students who want to attend without getting depressed or triggered, and secondly not point in the direction of the kind of respect that transgender people deserve. This straight (cis) man who cares about trans rights makes a lot of good points about how when transgender people are struggling with oppression, we are missing out on the inventions and contributions they could otherwise be making. What he does not get to is the part where transgender people, or people whom our culture would label “transgender” even if their own cultures did not, have always been leaders. There are so many trans people who have contributed so much to our society over the years, but they have always been less likely to be given credit for their own accomplishments. Even the Stonewall riots so important to LGBT history in the US, have been misrepresented to give the credit to cis gay men when that credit belongs to trans women, drag queens, homeless queer youth and more. (By the way, if you come on Tuesday evening you may get to meet Miss Major who was part of those riots, and you will get to find out some of the work she has been doing since then.) So, come on Wednesday to hear the renowned Janet Mock speak about transgender inclusivity in social justice movements. Grab a handout at any event to read about a very few of the many transgender people who have impacted society, check out some more online, and come Thursday at lunch to discuss about trans* narratives and trans* history.
Also, there is no “universal trans experience” and there is no one way that cissexism works. Trans women, trans men, non-binary and other trans folks may be American or not, they may come from different class and race backgrounds, and those social statuses have differing impacts. A trans person with class privilege who can work from home, or do independent business online, will fare much better than a trans person who may be thought of as too “unprofessional” to hire; and it is trans women who are most targeted by this discrimination.
So come to lunch at El Centro on Tuesday for Transgender Latin@ Stories with La Familia. Come to dinner on Monday evening for a discussion of perspectives by trans*, ace, and queer people of color. Come to the Ujamaa Lounge on Tuesday at 5:30, eat some dinner, and cross the street to the Women’s Community Center at 7 to hear about the impact of the prison system on transgender women. Whether you’re cis or trans, whether you’re familiar with transgender etiquette and issues or not, there’s a lot to learn and a lot of great people to meet!
 Think this term through. Someone who thinks of herself as a woman may be a cis woman or a trans woman.
TRANSGENDER AWARENESS WEEK 2013
Monday, April 15th, 12 PM to 1 PM @ El Centro Chicano
Trans* 101: Stanford Students Speak (with SOSAS)
Transgender-identified Stanford students speak to their own experiences on- and off-campus. Come and ask all the questions you’ve been wondering! Lunch provided.
Monday, April 15th, 6 PM to 7 PM @ the LGBT Community Resources Center
At the End of the Acronym: QPOC trans*/ace-/*queer Perspectives
Panelists from the Bay Area speak. Dinner provided.
Tuesday, April 16th, 12 PM to 1 PM @ El Centro Chicano
Trans* Latin@ Stories (with La Familia)
A panel. Lunch provided.
Tuesday, April 16th, 5:30 PM to 7 PM @ Ujamaa Lounge
“Gun Hill Road” Screening (with BlaQS and La Familia)
Join us in watching the 2011 film “Gun Hill Road”!
Tuesday, April 16th, 7 PM to 8 PM @ the Women’s Community Center
Living Beneath the Safety Net: From Stonewall to San Quentin (with NAACP)
Staff of the Transgender, Gender-Variant and Intersex Justice Project present about the issues affecting trans women inside and outside the prison system, and about the empowerment work that that the TGIJP does. Depending on her health, this should include Miss Major, a veteran of the Stonewall Riots, who will discuss her personal experiences working with transgender women of color. Light snacks provided.
Wednesday, April 17th, 12 PM to 1 PM @ the LGBT Community Resources Center
Trans* History and Today (with CASA)
Who is Sylvia Rivera and what does she have to do with the Stonewall Riots? What does it mean to be trans*-identified in a “gay rights” political culture? Join us for a discussion on trans* identities in the LGBT movement! Lunch for this event is provided for frosh and transfer students.
Wednesday, April 17th, 7:30 PM to 9 PM @ the Black Community Services Center
Janet Mock: Trans-Inclusive Social Movements
Janet Mock presents the keynote for Stanford Students for Queer Liberation’s Transgender Awareness Week 2013. Mock, a writer and activist who creates, critiques, and contributes to media in an effort to expand society’s limited portrait of womanhood, will be speaking on the importance of transgender inclusivity in social movements. Light snacks provided.
Please RSVP at: https://www.facebook.com/events/394287384012309/
Thursday, April 18th, 12 PM to 1 PM @ the Native American Cultural Center
Our Histories and Narratives
How do trans* and gender-nonconforming narratives vary across time and cultures? How are transgender communities growing and changing in the 21st century? Lunch provided.
Elizabeth is in the middle of seeking a PhD in mathematics. She is also interested in queer rights and social justice, music, Irish dancing, climbing trees and any number of things.