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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Week of events will promote transgender awareness

    Ernie Somoza
    Ernie Somoza / Arizona Daily Wildcat Chris Kosters, chemistry and cellular biology senior lights candles that were placed in the fountain in front of old main in remembrance of the 222 reported transgender deaths since last November 21. It is reported that a transgender person dies every other day.

    In honor of this year’s Transgender Awareness Week, the LGBTQ community is celebrating trans* identities and educating the Tucson community on transgender issues.

    The week kicks off on the UA Mall today with an interactive resource fair to educate and answer any questions students may have about the transgender community.

    At 5:30 p.m., attendees will gather at the Women’s Plaza of Honor to mourn and honor members of the transgender community from around the world who have been murdered in the past year for their gender identity.

    The names of 250 victims will be read, as well as their ages and what happened to them.

    “This is something that’s really important for our community to honor and to own,” said Rae Strozzo, program coordinator for Southern Arizona Gender Alliance. Strozzo added that a significant number of the victims who will be remembered are transgender women of color.

    Strozzo said a primary goal of Transgender Awareness Week is to educate students and the Tucson community, as well as celebrate the individuality of the transgender community.

    “I think that transgender identities are not always understood,” said Jennifer Hoefle, program director of LGBTQ Affairs at the university. “We like to call it a gender galaxy. I hope [this week] helps people expand their minds to get out of a binary understanding of gender. Our genders are part of who we are ­— and we’re all people.”

    The week, which runs through Tuesday, will provide the students and the Tucson community with panel discussions, lectures, dancing, live music, a picnic and poetry readings to celebrate Transgender Awareness Week.

    “We’ve got a pile of local musicians coming in from out of town,” Strozzo said, “I think it’s going to be a really awesome, super spontaneous music event.”

    Saturday will bring an event called Front Porch Music to the community from 6 to 9 p.m., which will host artists including Joe Stevens from Coyote Grace, Bruce Blackstone and Michael Woodward.

    “I think this interaction between the community and transgender people will be valuable for both groups,” said Chris Sogge, co-director of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Pride Alliance.

    This annual event will be the third Transgender Awareness Week that Sogge has participated in.

    “I’m really excited to see that this will be a successful annual event,” Sogge said. “I really hope people get the idea that we’re celebrating transgender life.”

    Hoefle said this week is looking beyond ideals of tolerance and is instead trying to focus on the ultimate celebration of an individual’s gender identity.

    “We call it Transgender Awareness Week, but I hope we build more than awareness and instead build a sense of celebration,” Hoefle said. “I hope as a campus we move beyond the notion of tolerance and celebrate instead. Our differences are what make us amazing and what make our lives amazing.”

    Follow Casey Knox @Knox_Casey

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