SAN DIEGO -- The Transgender Day of Empowerment is held every spring to celebrate the diverse individuals within the transgender community. This year, two pillars of San Diego's LGBT community will help observe the holiday, with The Center hosting Transgender Day of Empowerment today, and SDSU hosting its first-ever Trans Week of Empowerment.
Transgender Day of Empowerment
The Center was the first local organization to hold a Transgender Day of Empowerment in April 2004. Following the Transgender Day of Remembrance the year before, a day paying homage to those killed by transphobic violence, Tracie O’Brien came up with the idea to hold an event that was completely opposite. This holiday celebrates accomplishments as a community.
Connor Maddocks, Project TRANS Coordinator at The Center in Hillcrest, has been involved in the Day of Empowerment since its inception. Serving alongside O’Brien, Maddocks has worked very hard with The Center to make the event inclusive for everyone and help raise awareness in the community about the necessity for equality.
The celebration today will include speakers, including Dr. Kourtney Ziegler, an award-winning filmmaker, visual artist, writer, scholar and trans man. Additionally, awards are bestowed upon transgender community members and allies for their outstanding contributions to the community. And of course socializing, with refreshments and snacks while participants mingle with one another.
For Maddocks, this event is about awareness around and within the community. While it’s not necessarily issue-oriented, as the Day of Remembrance, at the core it is still about community. He explained:
"So much of the LGB community is still very much unaware of the struggles of their transgender brothers and sisters, or even basic knowledge of what being transgender is all about, which is why we invite and encourage our LGB family to come to our event and learn about the T."
The primary purpose of Transgender Day of Empowerment is to our entire community together. It provides an environment within which all attendees can learn and share experiences. For others, it may be the perfect opportunity to become allies as well.
Trans Week of Empowerment
The Trans Week of Empowerment follows on closely on the heels of the Transgender Day of Empowerment, commencing at SDSU on April 7. This is the first-ever, large-scale collaboration on a LGBTQ-related event since The Pride Center launched at SDSU. The celebratory week offers students the opportunity to connect and showcase the many campus groups to raise visibility for transgender communities.
As a trans identified SDSU student, Wesley R. Palau led the Trans Week of Empowerment planning committee, and will be a speaker at the Trans Discussion Panel on April 8. For Wesley, this unprecedented week is at the forefront of raising visibility for trans causes:
Not only are the event free of cost, but the Transgender Week of Empowerment will offer a variety of Trans*-centric programs and events specifically geared towards the SDSU community. Some of the events that will be taking place during Trans* Week of Empowerment include a daily Trans* 101 workshop, where you can come learn about the Trans* community and have all your questions answered, a screening of the documentary feature film Trans, in addition to a Trans* Focused Discussion Panel and observance events for the day of silence.
The Trans Week of Empowerment is a testament to cooperation, resulting from the dedicated, collaborative efforts of multiple student organizations. Like the Center’s holiday, Trans Week will honor, pay homage, and bring visibility to the incredible transgender community at SDSU.
The annual Transgender Day of Empowerment will be held at The Center, Friday, April 4. For more information contact Connor Maddocks.
Trans Week of Empowerment at SDSU 2014 kicks off Monday, April 7 and lasts through the afternoon of April 11. For more information, visit Facebook.