Last week was trans awareness week, a week dedicated to bringing awareness to transgender people internationally and the struggles they face. The final day (November 20th) was trans remembrance day, a day dedicated to remembering victims of transphobic violence. Transgender awareness week was created in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in honor of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1998. Ever since then we take the day of November 20th to mourn those lost to violence and hate crimes due to nothing more than living their truest lives.
Trans awareness week holds many different values to different members of the community. For many, this is a day of celebration, a week for gender-nonconforming people from around the world to celebrate their identity and all that has been accomplished for the transgender community. For others, it is a time of mourning for friends, family, and community members lost.
For those who celebrate it is shown by parades, parties, and events held by local community members. All around just working to make themselves visible and show that they are proud of who they are. It is also used as a time to educate the public on transgender rights and gender-nonconforming identities. There are programs run across the country to educate on everything from sex ed to advocacy for trans students.
As issues with transgender students especially when it comes to sports arise, the importance of these celebrations and attempts to bring awareness are all that much more important. As young people grow more confident and comfortable with their identities in the newer generations anti-trans hate groups have also grown. These groups work to dispute the validity of transgender identities and cause harm in the community.
Now you may be wondering, what can I, a mentor, a student, a friend, or a teacher do to make transgender students feel safer? Luckily there's a lot you can do! Some important things are making sure your students or friends know you are a safe space and support them. Another thing is to provide gender-neutral bathrooms and spaces for all students. For many students in FIRST, travel rooming is also a concern so it is important to have open honest conversations with your team to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable.
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is a student run organization that advocates awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ students, mentors, and volunteers of FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST reaches out to over 1000 members across the FIRST regions and fronts multiple outreach endeavors.