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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Trangendered community celebrated on campus

The fifth annual Transgender Awareness Week comes to the UA with new activities to bring light to transgender issues on the heels of a new initiative to add gender-inclusive housing to campus.

The week includes workshops, plays, movies, forums and resource fairs in order to educate students on a group of the LGTBQ — lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and questioning — community that is maybe not as well understood as others in the community, according to Jennifer Hoefle, director of LGBTQ Affairs in the Dean of Students Office.

“”What makes this different (than Coming Out Week) is that this week is built around transgender identities,”” Hoefle said. “”People tend to know less about transgender issues than about gay and lesbian issues.””

Jai Smith, student co-director of Pride Alliance and a sociology senior, felt the differences between Coming Out Week and Transgender Awareness Week were distinct and deliberate.

“”The reason we do a transgender week,”” Smith said, “”is because: 1) Transgender Awareness Week is something that happens in the Tucson community and bringing some of the events to the U of A campus is important and 2) Coming Out Week discusses sexual orientation, but this week discusses transgender issues and the myriad of sexual identities that exist. It’s important to highlight especially gender identity.””

A highlight of the gender identity-focused week is Made for Flight and its accompanying resource fair, which to Hoefle and Smith, is one of the week’s best events. The names of people who have been killed for being transgender are written on kites and flown by participants during the Made for Flight ceremony.

“”It lifts up their names,”” Smith said of those honored in the ceremony.

The one-actor play “”TransFormations”” is also a notable event of the week as a passive way to reach out without formality, Hoefle said.

“”Not everyone wants to go to a workshop or a panel and that’s why we kind of built it as our keynote production,”” Hoefle said.

Teaching not just tolerance but also acceptance is a feature that LGBTQ Affairs and Pride Alliance stressed. Smith added that although intolerant speech usually tends to discuss sexual orientation, usually it is a result of the chosen gender expression of those who are attacked.

Making more activities accessible to UA students is also a feature that makes this year’s Transgender Awareness Week unique, said Smith. 

“”For this year, we have beefed up the quality of things happening on campus,”” Smith said. “”Pride Alliance really wanted to have things on campus. And so, it’s two fold. In terms of the student community, there is a greater opportunity to get involved and also it’s a different format and we’re excited to see this format play out.””

Pride Alliance interns, Smith said, were vital in making this year’s week what he hopes to be the largest week of its kind ever on campus.

Made for Flight and the resource fair is the first event, taking place on the UA Mall today with the capstone vigil for those killed because of their transgender status proceeding from Fourth Avenue to Wingspan, a gay and lesbian community center, 430 E. Seventh St.

“”It is an attempt to raise awareness,”” Hoefle said.

“”That’s with the hope that we can make the U of A, Tucson, Arizona, the country, the world more aware.””

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