By Elliot Owen
The Bay Area Reporter
San Francisco State University will be honoring International Transgender Day of Visibility by facilitating its first No Hate/Erase Hate campaign to be held on Monday, March 26. Co-sponsored by student-run organizations Queer Alliance and the Disabled Students Association, the event aims to expand transgender awareness, visibility, and safety on campus.
Highlighting the day’s agenda is keynote speaker Ms. Bob Davis, City College of San Francisco’s first openly transgender tenured faculty member. Serving as dean of liberal arts since September 2010, Davis dresses in women’s clothing for herself, and also, to serve as a role model for the transgender community.
“Since I’ve been dressing everyday, I’m doing a certain kind of transgender outreach or advocacy because people see me,” Davis said. “I’m telling people that transgender people live in their world. You can be who you are in the world without letting the world force you to change.”
Activities are planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include music, raffles, and speeches by members and allies of the transgender community. Initially designed as a small gathering on the campus’ center lawn, the event’s location has been expanded to San Francisco State’s Malcolm X Plaza and Jack Adams Hall as a result of the increasing number of both student-run and outside organizations willing to participate.
Among the confirmed participants are Gold’s Gym, which will be handing out free gym passes to students, LaCasa.org and San Francisco State’s Women’s Center. Groups and individuals will also have the opportunity to contribute videos to the It Gets Better project, a movement created in 2010 to stop the growing number of LGBT teen suicides caused by experiencing bullying at school.
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a report released last year by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, found that 51 percent of the transgender and gender non-conforming participants who reported being harassed or bullied in school had attempted suicide.
Marthese Marina-Espinoza, vice president of the Disabled Students Association, is excited about contributing to a more trans-friendly atmosphere on campus.
“We’ve been noticing that some people have been looking strangely at other people, making comments and gestures. That’s just not acceptable,” said Marina-Espinoza, a 29-year-old sociology student.
“We want to promote people coming out. It’s okay to be transgender and not okay for people to express hate toward you,” she said.
Lexi Adsit, 21, a gender studies student who identifies as a transgender woman of color, is no stranger to the difficulties of being a transgender student.
“There are a lot of issues I experience through the institution,” she explained. “One example would be the use of my legal name on the class roster. When I start a new class each semester, they use my legal name and that’s not what I go by. It creates an awkward experience.”
Despite confronting adversity, Adsit remains optimistic about the future of transgender equality at educational institutions.
“There are very trans-specific issues that I think could be easily remedied. We just need the right kind of community to call for it and the right people in charge to meet us half way.”
While donations are welcome, the event is free and open to the public. Proceeds will go toward the opening of the San Francisco State University Equity Center, an LGBTQ resource center that will include a library and LGBTQ-centered counseling.