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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Transgender Awareness Week

Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Today marks the beginning of Tucson’s fourth annual Transgender Awareness Week.

“”It’s primarily a way to get folks to know about transgender people, who we are, something of our lives, our concerns, and the variety and range of transgender people here in Tucson,”” said Alison Davison, coordinator of Wingspan’s Southern Arizona Gender Alliance.

Davison estimated Tucson’s transgender population to be about 500-1,000, although it is difficult to know exactly because many people have not come out as transgender. The number could be higher, she said.

Transgender Awareness Week is sponsored by Wingspan’s Southern Arizona Gender Alliance and Eon Youth Program, the Office of LGBTQ Affairs, ASUA’s Pride Alliance, the Dean of Student’s Office, the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, and the Student Services Fee.     

Davison said many people  think transgender is similar to being homosexual.

She defined transgender as: “”a person whose sex, gender identity, or gender expression differs from the sex assigned to them at birth.””

“”This is about a core identity,”” she said.

The 11th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, which will take place on Friday, is an international event. The purpose of this event is to remember those who identify as transgender who have been murdered in the past year. In 2008, 47 transgender people were murdered internationally. This year, there have been 99. “”We thought a few years ago that to just focus on the ways in which transgender people are victims and these horrible things happened wasn’t a complete picture of who we are and what we’re about,”” Davison said. “”It’s really important that people get to know us because it’s out of ignorance that a lot of violence happens,”” she said.

Davison was born a boy, but knew at age five or six that she felt uncertain about her gender identity.

“”I knew I just didn’t feel right about gender stuff, but I didn’t know what to do about it,”” she said. “”I was told by everyone that I was a boy, and that was confusing.””

As a teenager, Davison began to read information about transgender individuals.

“”That was mind-blowing for me that it was possible to actually change and become what I felt I was,”” she said.

She began her transition to becoming a woman about 12 years ago.

“”It’s a process or a journey,”” she said.

Davison said UA is a supportive environment for the transgender community because of their bathroom guidelines. She said the bathrooms can be an issue for transgender people who are in the transition phase. The guideline at UA states that people on campus can use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. In the future, Davison said she hopes there will be gender-neutral bathrooms in every building on campus.

Jai Smith, a sociology junior and director of ASUA’s Pride Alliance said last year’s event lasted about three weeks, but this year they have condensed the events into one week.

“”In terms of the gay movement, a lot of times, transgender folks are sort of left in the back pocket, and I think it’s very important that we bring them to the forefront and say they are a part of the movement,”” he said.

Smith said the Pride Alliance will help display photographs and biographies of transgender people who were murdered in the past year. They will also have a piece of canvas with three different continua: gender, biological sex, and sexual orientation. People will be invited to place a star showing where they fall in each category.

“”That way we can sort of show where people on campus fall so that we can show there’s more than just the binary male/female, heterosexual/gay sort of thing,”” he said.

Organizers hope members of the transgender community as well as heterosexual allies will attend the events. “”There’s a lot to celebrate about us,”” Davison said.

Transgender Awareness Week Events:


Trans Extravaganza

7-10 p.m., Gallagher Theater


Transgender 101 Workshop

4-5 p.m., Copper Room

“”Ask a Tranny Anything”” Q & A Panel

5-7 p.m., Copper Room

“”Ask a Doctor Anything””

Dr. Jennifer Vanderleest MD, MSPH

5 p.m., Eon Youth Lounge

Call for location (520) 620-6245


“”Ask a Doctor Anything””

Dr. Jennifer Vanderleest MD, MSPH

5:15-6:30 p.m., Kiva Room

“”Ask a Tranny Anything”” Q & A Panel

6:30 p.m., ASU School of Social Work

340 N. Commerce Park Loop

Tortolita Building, Suite 219


“”Ask a Therapist Anything”” Q & A

12-2 p.m., Copper Room

Presentation: Legal Landscape for Transgender People

6 p.m., James E. Rogers College of Law, Room 160


11th Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance

5:30 p.m., Catalina Park

309 E. 1st Street






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