UC Berkeley transgender organizations advocate for safety on campus

Ireland Wagner/File

Related Posts

While transgender students on campus have faced obstacles to their safety, many activist groups are supporting the trans community. However, there is more work to be done.

Organizations on campus including the Gender Equity Resource Center, or GenEq; the Queer Alliance Resource Center, or QARC; and the Transgender Student Wellness Initiative, or TSWI, are working to support nonbinary and trans students by providing safe spaces as well as resources, according to Juniperangelica Cordova, coordinator for the TSWI

“Trans and nonbinary organizing on campus has always been present, while maybe not always spotlighted,” Cordova said in an email. “GenEq and the (Multicultural Community Center), as well as organizations like QARC have helped institutionalize support and advocacy.”

The TSWI was founded by trans students, namely trans women of color, to provide resources for the transgender community, according to Cordova. She added that the initiative aims to support trans students with basic needs, community building and leadership opportunities.

Transgender students are also involved in campus organizing, allowing students who identify with the queer and trans communities to be a part of a safer campus, according to Cordova.

“Trans and nonbinary students deserve to feel safe, welcomed and valued while at Cal,” Cordova said in the email.

According to Cordova, the TSWI has received reports from trans students that they do not seek help for financial aid, health or wellness at Sproul Hall, the Recreational Sports Facility and the University Health Services Tang Center because they are allegedly being misgendered.

ASUC Senator Naomi Garcia added that she does not think the ASUC has done enough for trans students on campus.

“It speaks volumes that trans people have to endure trauma and risk their safety on campus for Cal administration to even consider making any changes,” Garcia alleged in an email.

Garcia claimed that trans students of color have had to “sacrifice” their time, energy and health to receive support and aid from campus or the ASUC.

As an ASUC senator, Garcia aims to support trans people whether or not they want to work with campus administration on trans advocacy.

“My job is not to tell trans students how to best collaborate with admin, but to support their efforts to the best of my ability,” Garcia said in an email.

Campus support for trans and nonbinary students has allegedly not been consistent, according to Cordova.

Cordova added that the TSWI’s wellness grant was not renewed for the upcoming academic year.

“Trans students are often living at intersections that create complex issues on campus,” Cordova said in the email. “Trans students of color often experience housing and food insruciety at higher rates than our cisgender peers.”

Other resources on campus including the Multicultural Community Center and QARC are working to support students, according to Cordova. The QARC aims to unite the trans community and maintain connections among the queer and trans communities, according to its website.

In addition to pursuing its goals, the QARC administers sexual wellness materials, relevant books and manuals on wellness topics and transition supplies on request.

“The Queer Alliance Resource Center strives to transform UC Berkeley into a safe and affirming space for the trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer community,” the QARC website states.

GenEq similarly provides many services for transgender students, holding annual events and listing on- and off-campus resources for trans students and faculty.

On its website, GenEq adds that UC Berkeley is striving to be more inclusive for transgender, gender expansive and nonbinary communities.

Cordova said she thinks there are many ways campus can become involved in supporting the trans community.

“There are tons of ways we can all support trans people, from admin policies, to faculty syllabus language, to front-line staff learning about pronouns and chosen names, to students building their understanding of trans allyship,” Cordova said in the email.

Contact Shylie Ati at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shylieati.