On the weekend of May 18, the Associated Students Queer Commission, in collaboration with the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD), hosted the Queer Transgender People of Color Conference. Students from UCSB and universities across California gathered in the Student Resource Building (SRB) to participate in workshops, share in their experiences, and listen to keynote speakers.
The aim of the conference, according to Queer Commission Senate Liason Ricardo R. Uribe, was to “build a community among queer and trans people of color… To get a sense of how other schools are doing, and to export ideas, ideologies and beliefs from within our school [to others in California].”
On Saturday morning, the conference started off with a keynote by Naia Al-Anbar, a UCSB alumni. They spoke about the importance of maintaining an open dialogue, discussed the impact of racial history on our present day, and their experience being an activist for the QTPOC community.
“There are a multitude of ways people can be supportive [of the QTPOC community]… such as engaging in online work… financial support, doing research… some people give space in their homes to folks who need help… it’s finding time after work, on weekends… deciding this the work you want to do in your community,” said Al-Anbar
After the Q&A session, attendees split into the various rooms across the SRB where the student-led workshops were held. The workshops dealt with a variety of subjects relevant to the QTPOC community, both specific to UCSB and in general. Some titles included “Gender and Identity Based Violence”, “Alcohol and Drug Safety/ IV Laws”, and “The Intersection of Transgender and Ethnic Identities.”
Miguel Hernandez, a second year biochemistry major at UCSB, hosted a workshop titled “Navigating STEM as part of the LGBTQ+ Community”. “While sometimes [identifying as LGBTQ+] and being a STEM student can feel like two opposing identities… it is important to unify those two identities and mix them into one… That was the point of this presentation,” said Hernandez.
The conference provided students with opportunities to connect with others who might share some of their unique challenges. One student, a 4th year English major who requested to remain anonymous, identifies as LGBTQ+ and grew up in China. She said, “in China, people are very conservative. We are afraid to talk about who we are… most of the time people will not come out in public or even to their friends and family because people will criticize them.”
However, she continued, “I am not afraid of talking about [myself] with people in the conference, which made me feel relaxed.”
“Simply going through RCSGD and different orgs, such as Queer Commission, CAPS [Counseling and Psychological Services] or QTAP [Queer and Trans Advocacy Project], all of those orgs are able to help connect you to so many different resources,” stated Ricardo.
Eli Diaz, a first year pre-political science major at UCSB, said, “It feels really good to be around a bunch of other queer folk. And learning so much. It’s a really fun space to be in.”
On Sunday, attendees watched the film “Bruising for Besos”, which explores the character of Yoli, a lesbian Xicana artist living in L.A., as she falls in love while dealing with numerous obstacles that accompany her intersecting identities. After the film, attendees engaged in a Q&A with the film’s star and director, Adelina Anthony.
“We hope that the queer trans community of color here at Santa Barbara are able to see this event as a sign that they are meant to be here, and that there are so many other queer and trans people of color on this campus, and that we actually really have a large community here,” said Ricardo.