Fresno City College Allied Staff and Faculty Association’s Efforts to Stand With the Transgender Community

Flyer+detailing+instructions+for+how+to+participate+in++Allied+Staff+and+Faculty+Association%27s+social+media+project.+Photo+courtesy%3A+Alliedsfa%27s+Instagram+page

Flyer detailing instructions for how to participate in Allied Staff and Faculty Association’s social media project. Photo courtesy: Alliedsfa’s Instagram page

Story By: Johnny Cortez, Reporter

Fresno City College’s Allied Staff and Faculty Association launched a social media project in hopes of creating a safe space online for students and staff who identify as transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming individuals to share their stories.

Alliedsfa is a group on campus whose mission is to create a campus-wide support network for LGBTQ staff, faculty, students, and their allies in an attempt to promote academic success and higher retention rates of LGBTQ students, according to its mission statement.

The social media project was held via Facebook and Instagram on March 31, 2021, which was Transgender Visibility Day. 

Arien Reed, president of the Alliedsfa, was talking to his executive board made up of Vice President of Staff, Virginia Beamer, Vice President of Faculty, Jenny Lewallen, Treasurer, Donna Chandler and Secretary, Stetler Brown when he decided to celebrate Trans Visibility Day. 

For Reed, who is a trans man, it’s important that trans people are visible and that the public be educated as to who and what the transgender community is so that people can begin to de-stigmatize gender, specifically, being transgender. 

Doing so would allow the community to be seen as normal and very much human and not freaks, gender tricksters, mentally ill, or as people who have something wrong with us.

“Only through awareness, education, and visibility can we start to make this world a less severely unsafe one for trans people to live in, especially trans women of color,” he said. 

Alliedsfa has talked about doing marches in-person but never did due to many students not feeling safe or comfortably open with their identity in a public space.

Reed, who has encountered many students or community members on campus who had no idea what “trans” means or even what “LGBTQ” stands for, believes a march would allow people to see that transgender people exist. 

A march would also show that the transgender community is made up of ordinary humans so things like, using a restroom, finding and keeping a job or a place to live or even just walking down the street, should not be so terrifying and challenging as it currently is. 

FCC student Annemarie Gash, who is a transgender woman participating in the project, believes it is humanizing and empowering for members of the transgender community to share their stories. 

In addition, Gash said it is not only personally empowering to participate in activities like this, it is incredibly important for the voices of the minorities to be heard by a wider audience. 

“I think one of the leading reasons for bigotry is ignorance and dehumanization. If someone only ever hears about trans people in contexts where they are being dehumanized, for example the bathroom discussion, I think it is more likely that they will hold bigoted views of trans people,” she said. 

Hosting Alliedsfa and it’s events online is not an issue for Reed, as he prefers going digital rather than being in a physical location where students could be prone to being attacked. 

“Public marches would have to be supervised closely by law enforcement because it is frighteningly unsafe to be trans anywhere, but most especially in conservative areas like the Central Valley,” he said. 

Reed even recalls times he was in dangerous situations due to his identity. 

One as recent as January 2021, where a man attempted to physically assault him.

When Reed was safe in his car, the man continued to kick his car while yelling transphobic slurs at Reed as he was driving away.

During another incident, a different man tried to prevent Reed from getting into his car, while saying “What the **** are you?”

Reed also acknowledged that other members of the transgender community have faced worse, such as sexual assault and in some instances, death. 

 According to the Human Rights Campaign, there have been 41 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people due to hate crimes so far this year.

As for the social media project, Reed says it has been hard to rally up students to participate since Alliedsfa can’t just tell what students identify as nor force them to participate which is why the group has to just promote themselves on social media and hope they engage.

In addition to this project, Reed and other Alliedsfa members host other events and activities such as an event on March 31, titled, “Are You a Trans Ally?”, where students and community members can learn what being transgender means and how they can become better allies for the transgender community.