Transgendered community speaks out

After the verdict, the judge approached Mia F. Yamamoto and gave her a hug.

“When you said, ‘I would rather die a woman than live another day as someone I’m not,’ that really touched me,” the judge said.

Yamamoto, an attorney and criminal prosecutor for Los Angeles County explained the reaction of one of the toughest judges she knew when she told him she would be transitioning from a man to a woman.

Maria Carmen Hinayon, Associated Students, Inc. Secretary for LGBTIQ affairs, hosted and coordinated the Transgender 101 symposium. The symposium hosted three speakers, focusing on the terminology, transphobia and legal issues that surround individuals who are transgendered.

Drian Juarez, who works for the transgender program at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, discussed the proper terminologies when it comes to transgendered people.

Juarez explained there is a need to learn about the way to refer to people who are transgendered.

“Let people self-identify themselves, don’t put labels on them,” Juarez said.

Juarez said that the way of life for a transgendered person might be more difficult at times than for a gay or lesbian person.

“People who are transgendered are more visible. A person who is gay or lesbian looks the same when they come out, a person who transitions stands out,” Juarez said.

Talia Bettcher, who works for the Department of Philosophy at Cal State Los Angeles, touched on the topic of transphobia. According to Bettcher, a project entitled “Remembering the Dead” tracked 350 transgendered people who were murdered last year because of their transgendered identity.

“Sexual violence is something that is very common — it happens to transgendered people all the time,” Bettcher said. “When a transgendered woman goes to jail, she is placed with men to protect the women inmates, but who will protect the transgendered woman from the male inmates?”

Although people who are transgendered have come a long way, they are still very underrepresented within the LGBT community. Men who are transgendered can be erased and ignored from the gay community and society itself, according to Bettcher.

“When the government collects information, there are only two boxes. One says male, the other says female. There is no transgendered box,” Hinayon said.

The overall focus of the symposium was to educate and inform students and staff who don’t know anything about being transgendered.

According to Hinayon, there are many misconceptions about transgendered people.

“People don’t understand that being transgendered is a condition people did not choose. They are born that way,” Hinayon said.

Last year’s attack on a transgendered student at Cal State Long Beach has put stress on the LGBT community on campus.

“We have discussion groups at the LGBT resource center, and around 98 percent of the people in the room that day expressed fear,” Hinayon said.

Hinayon stressed the need for understanding and knowledge. She said the symposium was a step in that direction.



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