Trans awareness week aims to promote understanding, inclusivity

| Staff Reporter

WashU Pride Alliance’s annual Trans Awareness Week, which brings events and speakers to Washington University to celebrate and recognize transgender identities and experiences, started Monday, Nov. 13 and will end Monday, Nov. 20.

Trans Awareness Week (TAW) events are educational and celebratory experiences for all Washington University students, meant to make campus more inclusive for transgender and nonbinary students.

On Monday, Pride Alliance hosted a presentation with St. Louis’ Metro Trans Umbrella Group, a locally based advocacy group that works to make St. Louis a more inclusive community and raise awareness about transgender violence. Students are also tabling in the Danforth University Center and the Bear’s Den throughout the week to raise awareness about transgender identities and issues.

In addition to educational programming throughout the week, Pride Alliance is hosting queer Latinx poet and activist Christopher Soto at 6 p.m. Thursday in Umrath Lounge, and a screening of Sean Baker’s documentary “Tangerine,” which follows the experiences of transgender sex workers in Los Angeles, Friday at 6 p.m. in Simon Hall’s May Auditorium.

The week comes to a close with Trans Day of Awareness, an event for which students are invited to gather and honor the lives of transgender people murdered during 2017. This closing event will take place at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion on Monday at 6 p.m.

Organizers want to emphasize that all students are welcome to TAW events, especially Monday’s vigil.

“I think to be in a space where the gravity of the situation is apparent is so important,” sophomore and Pride Alliance Event Chair Luka Cai said. “[Trans Day of Remembrance] is an underemphasized event, but I think more people should come.”

Freshman Bread Lee also emphasized the importance of raising turnout for TAW events.

“I guess that a problem with these events is that the people who show up are the people who already know about the information presented,” Lee said. “It’s hard to make other people want to care.”

According to senior Jaime Swank, TAW events are important for transgender visibility and awareness on campus.

“There’s not a whole lot of transgender visibility on campus, so I think it’s super important that we have events like this to bring attention to the issues that transgender students face, so that maybe we can start understanding transgender students overall,” Swank said.

Cai thinks the Washington University community can do more as a whole to make the campus a better space for transgender and gender nonconforming students.

“I think certain barriers can be removed to make trans people and nonbinary people feel more included and accepted,” Cai said. “Students and allies can do better by going to educational events, embracing humility, being accountable and being OK with being wrong and being corrected.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correctly identify the Trans Day of Rememberance as such.