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Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility in San Diego

 April 2, 2024 at 1:25 PM PDT

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on KPBS. On this show , a conversation about Trans Day of Visibility. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired , and make you think. A panel of activists joined the show to talk about the importance of trans representation.

S2: We don't only want to be celebrated and talked about if we fall victim to violence , we need to celebrate trans people when they are still here with us today.

S1: Plus the importance of community and supporting the youth within it. That's ahead on Midday Edition. This past Sunday was International Transgender Day of Visibility. It celebrates and raises awareness about transgender people worldwide. Here on Midday Edition , we're taking this hour to talk about the issues that are facing the trans community. But we also want to celebrate the trans experience and the joy that comes with being your real , authentic self. I'm joined by Jim LaBarbera. They are one of the interim executive directors at San Diego Pride. Jen , welcome.

S3: Thank you so much for having us.

S1: Also , David Vance is here. They work at the San Diego LGBT Community Center , where they lead civic engagement campaigns and advocacy. Welcome to you , David.

S2: Thank you so much for having me.

S1: And finally , Kathy Mallaig. She's the founder and executive director of Trans Family Support Services. Kathy , welcome. Thanks.

S4: Thanks. Happy to be here.

S1: Glad to have you all here. So can you each talk a bit more about your role and the work you do in the community ? Jen , I'll start with you. Sure.

S3: Sure. So as one of the two interim co-executive directors at San Diego Pride , uh , we hope to lead and provide vision and support for our organization. That's a year round arts , culture , education and advocacy organization with a mission to foster pride , equality , and respect for LGBTQIA+ communities locally , nationally and globally. That's great.

S1: David , how about you ? Yes.

S2: So the San Diego LGBT Community Center is the largest health and human services provider for the LGBTQ community in the San Diego region. Uh , we're also one of the primary LGBTQ advocacy organizations in the region. My role as senior manager of advocacy and civic engagement , I'm really responsible for leading our non-partisan civic engagement campaigns and also managing our advocacy work , which entails advocating for LGBTQ health , wellness and human rights at local , state and federal levels.


S4: Most people didn't even know what the word meant. And to date , we have served nearly 5000 trans individuals and their families across the country. So we offer a plethora of direct services. And because the world has decided to politicize our kids , we now do a lot of the advocacy and legislation work as well.

S1: David , I'm curious about your story , because you grew up in rural Wisconsin where , you know , there wasn't much visibility for the LGBTQ plus community. What was that like ? Yeah.

S2: So , um , when I say I grew up in the middle of nowhere , I really did , um , cows and cornfields and all of that. I did not meet an openly queer person until I was 18 years old. And I remember being very isolated and having a lot of internal dialogue and conversation with myself , because there was no one else to have it with. And I remember even when I was growing up in Wisconsin , I did not have the language at the time to talk about what I was experiencing and witnessing and feeling. Um , but even when I was young and even when I was in that environment , I've always been , as I say , fascinated and infuriated by gender. Um , and that was very much in my mind when I was growing up in Wisconsin. And luckily , when I went to college , um , at Kenyon College in Ohio , it was a very progressive , welcoming environment. And my mind was blown because not only were there out LGBTQ people , but there were people who had been out in high school , um , which was completely unfathomable to me at the time. Wow.

S1: Wow.

S2: Um , I went I went to college with the intention of becoming an English professor. Um , and then I got there and I started taking a lot of queer theory classes and women's and gender studies classes , and all of the sudden felt like I now had the language and the rhetoric and the words to talk about the injustice that I had witnessed around me for my entire life. And quite literally , I do the work I do today because of my upbringing , because I want to help be a part of building a better world. Uh , for kids who are struggling and in places where they don't have a lot of support , where they don't have a lot of visibility. Um , it's a little cliche at this point , but I'm trying to I'm trying to build a better world that I wish I could have lived in when I grew up. Yeah.

S1: I mean , learning the language around your experience and learning how to articulate that is so important. Jen. How about you ? You've been organizing for a long time. Where did you get your start ? Yeah.

S3: So my identity as a queer , non-binary femme is fully tied up with my origin story. As an organizer , I think I was called to the work of organizing for various social justice causes. My first one was Environmental and Environmental Organization when I was in third grade , and kind of has just continued from there in various feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues and movements. And I'm in these movements , and it feels like the thing I have to do , it feels like I have no choice but to do this. This is what fills my cup. It also infuriates me , and it also fills me as a person who is queer and non-binary and femme and brown in this world , to feel like I'm advocating for my own community. Because if we don't advocate for ourselves , we can't rely on other people to do that work. Right.

S1: Right. And , Kathy , you mentioned that you founded Trans Family Support Services while advocating for your own son.

S4: Right. I didn't know what was going on for him for a long time. And he , at 11 years old , certainly did not have the words for it once. Once we've got some clarity. We didn't even have doctors here in San Diego that were willing to treat him. That's what I was told when I called around. And so advocating to get the folks at Rady Children's Hospital on board to treat him , you know , pulling together support groups , doing those things early on. And as I was working with his school to get them to understand how to support him working with Rady Children's , other families came along and asked , Will you help us with our kid ? And so I did that for a few years , just kind of on the side , sort of helping and then realize that if I really wanted to make an impact , I would need an organization behind me. And that's when I started the organization.


S2: Um , of course we have Transgender Day of Remembrance every year where we honor family members , trans family members who we've lost to anti-trans violence and hatred. And unfortunately , those numbers are still increasing every year. But something that I feel a lot as a non-binary person and something that I know a lot of other folks in the community feel , is we don't only want to be celebrated and talked about after we've passed , we don't only want to be celebrated and talked about if we fall victim to violence , we need to celebrate trans people when they are still here with us today.

S1: Um , Jen , I would.

S3: 100% agree with that. And one of the kind of tenets of San Diego pride in how we do our work is justice with joy. Yes , absolutely. Fight back against the attacks that are that are hurting us. Fight and fight for our own right to exist for that , against that attempt to erase trans folks specifically. And in order to do that , you have to lean into the joy. You have to find the joy. You have to celebrate the existence of trans folks that are still right here. Uh , I know growing up I did not know any trans adults. Right ? And I never , truly , never expected to survive past age 18. So all of this is is kind of bonus bonus years , bonus content and offering that visibility of. Look at these trans elders in our community. Look at Tracy Jada O'Brien , look at Jalisa King , look at these , these folks that have made it , these adults who who have become elders , it is possible to get there. And for those elders and adults that have made it right , offering us that opportunity to celebrate the fact that we have made it to the ages that we are currently at , because there's no guarantee that there will be a tomorrow. There's no guarantee that we'll be here next year , which is horrifying and awful and makes it so much more vital to protect the folks that are currently here and to really celebrate us.

S1: Visibility and representation are so important.

S4: As Jen was already talking about this piece of I can grow into being a successful adult. You know , my son had the same thing. He didn't tell me until he was like 14 , 15 that he never saw himself living to be an adult , which is devastating to hear your young child say. And so there's this piece around celebrating your identity in particular at a time. Where it's coming down to the hate that's in our schools. The school board meetings that have become so contentious , even here in San Diego County , so many people look at it and , you know , well , you're in California. We do work across the country , so we know how devastating it is in other places. But even here in San Diego County , this hate is so pervasive towards our kids. And so having that moment where they are being held up , where their identities are being honored , and the hope that it gives for the entire family. Because when you have a young trans or non-binary person , it is a family that is transitioning. It's not just the individual. And so for parents to have that piece of seeing these trans elders and meeting other families and finding out they're not alone on this path , you know , we we provide a mentorship program so we can take this concept of our youth getting to have that one on one with adults so they can hold a vision for themselves , that they can go after their dreams.

S1: From book bans to limiting healthcare , how anti-trans legislation is causing harm.

S4: It's affecting our kids at such a large scale. Their mental health and well-being is suffering at great expense because somebody is using this for political gain.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. Welcome back. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman , I'm here with Jim LaBarbera from San Diego Pride , David Vance with the San Diego LGBT Community Center , and Kathy Mallaig from Trans Family Support Services. We're continuing our conversation about the trans community here in San Diego and the importance of visibility to continue with what you were saying.

S3: And that's just that state legislative level , right , that are attacking trans folks , primarily focusing on trans youth. Some are also focusing on trans adults and just attacking our ability to exist in the world , our ability to use a restroom , our ability to play a sport if we're a kid , our ability to access basic healthcare. I believe it's over 500 right now. Bills that have been introduced in state legislatures across the country attacking the LGBTQIA+ community. The vast majority of those are attacking the trans community when they're medically focused , have special carve outs to continue to allow non-consensual medical intervention for intersex folks. Right. So attacking pieces of our community and really kind of pitting us against each other in that landscape of what's happening around the country , of what then we're seeing trickle down into our school boards of forced outing policies. We're trying to force teachers and guidance counselors to out their kids to their parents , whether or not that's safe. Trying to remove LGBTQ+ books from our libraries and and our schools right amidst this landscape where we are so deeply under attack. That's why it's important.

S2: Something I want to highlight too. And I think this is something that's been getting more awareness and traction. This point is that a lot of the battles , the legislation , the rhetoric , the talking points that are currently being used against the transgender and non-binary community in so many ways are a direct reflection and repurposing of the attacks that were used against cisgender queer people decades ago. Even thinking about people like Anita Bryant , who branded cisgender gay people as groomers , pedophiles , abusers , the fear around being in a restroom with someone. So much of that fear driven language is literally a direct repurposing of the same talking points ideas that were used against cisgender queer people decades ago. Again , not to say that everything is perfect and great for cisgender queer people , because obviously it is not. But that being said , this is also a call to allies to say we need you. We are still fighting a lot of the same battles that you all very fortunately have already won. And the intersection of our community is is also an important piece to bring in here because yes , like we are a diverse , rich , complex community with different experiences , different lives. But in so many ways , the attacks that are being used against us now , it's literally the same historical pattern that we've seen for decades.

S1: It's a repackaging. Yes.

S4: It started a decade ago when the anti LGBTQ movement as a whole recognized that they were going to end up losing same sex marriage. Right. And so with marriage equality , something that they knew they weren't going to win , it was where's our next place to have control of this ? And the transgender population is a part of it. I want to add that Tove is really important now as well , because this anti movement has spread so much misinformation that individuals who don't have any kind of lived experience maybe don't know a trans or non-binary person themselves , it's easy for them to digest it and regurgitate it. And so Titov brings to the table that trans and non-binary people are like everybody else. There are parents , there are siblings , there are partners , there are children , there are teachers and police officers. And every walk of life. It's not that trans people are new to our society by any means , it's just that trans people have come to a place as a community to be far more open about their identity , and that's at great cost because of the anti rhetoric that's happening now.

S1: Yeah , I mean , there are escalating political and legislative efforts to ban gender affirming care for trans people. Um , they're really ramping up. Kathy , how are you helping families navigate that in spite of these efforts to ban care ? Yeah.

S4: So over a year ago we started a 500 and 1C4 , which is the political arm of nonprofit , as we saw that the politicians were really politicizing our kids and coming after them. And Friday we had an Assembly member here in California who submitted a bill exactly for that purpose to criminalize care for our minors here in California. Again , people think we're insulated from this. We are not. There's also a possible ballot measure doing the same thing. And so , you know , we're working to mobilize not only our families with our trans kids , but their friends and families , their allies , to be able to give more voice to how wrong this is. The narrative is out there that that doctors are profiting from this and that it's happening without parental consent. And that is in no means true. No , no minor , no one under the age of 18 is accessing medical care without a doctor , a mental health provider and parental consent. And so this piece of , you know , parental rights and we have to stop these things is nonsense and it's untrue and and it's affecting our kids at such a large scale. All their mental health and well-being is suffering at great expense because somebody is using this for political gain.

S1: You know , I feel like this battle over gender affirming care shows how trans rights intersect with other issues. Jen. You kind of touched on this earlier. So , you know , I'm thinking of like bodily autonomy , for example.

S3: What I was fighting when I was an organizer in reproductive justice spaces , it's the exact same language that is happening around gender affirming care bans. Is the exact same thing happening with politicians who are , by and large , not medical doctors nor medically trained , trying to create rules and laws around what medical care should look like , which is not their place. And we've even seen it. There was a state last year that actually bundled an abortion ban and a ban on gender affirming care in the exact same bill , because they are from the same place. This need to control the the body , the autonomy of marginalized folks , whether those that is people seeking abortions , whether that's people seeking hormones and or surgery for gender affirming care , people seeking just mental health care that's affirming for them , right ? All of those things are things we all have a right to.

S1: This anti-trans rhetoric and legislation , it's really affecting young people.


S3: Three things that I think all three of us are working together on , with a number of other partners around the county. One is providing that basic social support to trans youth who are particularly vulnerable , and also to trans folks that are no longer youth. Right. Providing that social support through organizations for youth. It's through many of our organizations and also through their GSA's and their teachers. We're training those providers to make sure that there's providers who are willing and able and capable of treating and supporting our transgender and non-binary folks within San Diego County. And then all of us , along with a few other partners , have put together a coalition that's really helping to respond to and be proactive to the things that are happening in our school boards. We have 42 school boards in San Diego County , so we have a coalition of really phenomenal local , on the ground organizations that are doing the work of monitoring what's happening at school boards , being proactive and saying , hey , here's what the state law actually requires you to do , and being responsive when anti-trans , anti-LGBTQ , plus things come up on their agendas.

S4: I think we also have to take an even broader view because of this anti-trans rhetoric. We have less and less providers who feel safe providing this care , whether it's mental health care or medical care. We have 23 states across the country that have criminalized care for our minors , which means the other states are then impacted because these people are still trying to get access to care. So they have to travel to other states. So it's not just that , you know , all of this is is causing challenges and and causing severe issues for mental health for our , our youth , but we also don't have enough providers to help them. That's one piece is calling in more providers stepping into getting educated to be able to serve this population as well. As David has already said , and Jenn as well , allies are being called to the table. We no longer , as non trans people assist people. We no longer have the luxury of sitting back and watching this unfold in front of us. We must engage. We must be able to come into the table , stand next to our trans and non-binary siblings and help their voices be amplified.

S1: You know , as you mentioned , something that it stuck out to me is the importance of of youth support. Um , last month , a nonbinary Oklahoma teen. Next Benedicte , died one day after a physical altercation at school. Next , his family said they endured months of bullying. Next , his death really highlights the need to protect LGBTQ+ youth.

S4: And and being able to set up just open spaces that our kids don't feel like they're necessarily in a support group because they're telling us , that's not what I need. I just need to be able to hang out with people who are like. And so providing those spaces , whether it's virtually or in person , like the other two agencies do , is so important. And then for our organization , we're really focused on providing the support for the parents who are with those kids every single day , helping them to become a place that is safe and affirming for their kids to be able to come home and say , I'm being bullied at school and then helping the parents to know how they can take action on behalf of their student. Because oftentimes our kids aren't coming home and telling parents because they don't think that there's a way to change it. They don't want their parents involved. And oftentimes their parents might not even be aware of their identity because they haven't shared it , because they don't feel that they're safe to share it. So for us that work around making the household a safer place so that the youth has more allies to be able to make school a safer place.

S1: Coming up how strength and assurance comes from community.

S3: Being around like people gives me this , this sense of , of euphoric community , of being able to be together and to not have to explain myself.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman , I'm here with San Diego Pride's Jim LaBarbera. David Vance from San Diego LGBT Community Center and Kathy Mallaig with trans family support services. We're talking about Trans Day of visibility and celebrating trans Joy. David and Jen , I want to bring this back to San Diego.

S2: So I would say my coming out process as a trans person , as a non-binary person began around 2014. I had really just reached a point where identifying with the gender that I was assigned at birth just felt completely incorrect and wrong. And I also want to say that part of what helped bring me to that realization , and helped bring me to that point of strength and accepting my identity , were trans youth. Um , in fact , I was volunteering at the Hillcrest Youth Center at the time , um , leading a gender identity discussion group , and it was actually the kids in the Gender Identity discussion group at the Hillcrest Youth Center who really gave me the confidence to say , you know what ? No , I am actually non-binary and I'm using they them pronouns now. Um , so shout out to trans youth always. But , um , you know , for me , my initial coming out process was very visual and very external. Makeup was very , very important to me in my early coming out process and even at , you know , large community events , um , really anywhere where I was going to be seen in any capacity , I wanted to look as gender queer and weird and wild as possible. And so much of that was liberation for myself , but also a visible statement against the institutionalized lie of the gender binary. Um , and that was really , really important to me in my initial coming out process. I would say that that is still part of how I navigate my activism and the world. Um , but , you know , I there there is an amazing community of trans and non-binary people here in San Diego. Um , I think , you know , people like to say that San Diego is a big city that feels like a small town , and I feel like the LGBTQ community and the trans and non-binary community here is even more so of that , in such a good way , where there's such a there's such a connection , there's such a closeness. It feels like everyone knows everyone in , in the best way. And , um , I've been I've been very , very grateful to have such a supportive community and supportive colleagues around me as I've navigated my own coming out process while also advocating for others.

S3: It's so funny that , David , that you say that you're coming out was led by trans youth , because I would say mine was too. I didn't I came out as queer when I was , uh , 18 , when I was finally out of the house. And it was an option. Right ? It was like , oh , this is an option. Great. Cool. This is me now , right ? And when I went really hard into that identity and still am very deep , of course , into that identity , but really kind of playing with what that meant , what that looked like , uh , from age 18 until , well , now really and coming out as non-binary , though , happened a good deal later , primarily because I didn't know it was an option. I didn't know it was a thing. And then once I found out that it existed , here's words that could potentially describe me. I didn't know that I was allowed to use them. And so it was it was our youth coordinator and the youth in the pride youth programs that first asked if I was non-binary , first started just by default , using they them pronouns for me. And I realized how good it felt. And so and it was not until really kind of nearly into the pandemic that I started playing with the idea of letting other people in to that. I kind of kept it in my head for a while with this , with these youth being like , okay , but Jen , this is you , right ? Uh , and it was during the pandemic when and I think this happened for a good number of folks that didn't feel like they could go throughout their daily life and , and have the freedom to explore what their , what gender meant for them. And then when we all got stuck at home and didn't have as much external pressure on us , I think for me , and I've heard from a few other folks too , that that gave me the permission to really feel it out , really feel if that felt like the right identity for me , and it was talking to other trans and non-binary folks here in San Diego and also around the country , that , uh , I really kind of saw myself reflected in them. And that , I think , is what community gives you is that mirror to be able to consider that as a possibility and to see , oh , you are like me , right ? Like Kathy was saying , is the kids who just want to be around other people who are like them , being around like people gives you this for me. It gives me this , this sense of , of euphoric community , of being able to be together and to not have to explain myself , to not have to explain what non-binary is , explain why that's who I am and what I am. I get to just be. All of me.

S4: I think Jen brings up a really good point with some of the misinformation that's out there is that , you know , this is a social contagion that kids are saying that they're trans or non-binary because of social media influencers , TikTokers , all of that kind of stuff. And it's like , no , what's happening is our kids are getting access to language they never knew about. And and in particular , we see the same thing happen during the pandemic that , you know , folks were able to reach out and safe places digitally to start questioning and trying on their identities to help them understand who they were , not because it was influenced on them. And I think that's really important information that we help to share out , that it is not a contagion. It is. We all will gravitate to people who are like us , even oftentimes before we know we have those commonalities. Mhm.

S5: Mhm.

S1: You know I want to talk about your heroes. I mean Jen you talked about Tracy Jada O'Brien earlier and celebrating our trans elders. Who are your heroes for me.

S3: One of those is absolutely Tracy Jada O'Brien. She is our my friend Tyler Renner wrote an article about her last year. And in it he opened with , you know , the word icon is really thrown around a lot lately , but Tracy is is one of those people that actually is really defines that word. She has been out since she was very young , when it was not really a thing , and not definitely not a safe thing to be publicly in the world. And , you know , made her way to San Diego and has spent her life making San Diego a safer place for trans folks to exist. Has spent her life working to ensure that medical care is provided at places like family health centers , making sure that trans youth that need to go to college have access to a little bit of extra income and money through the Tracy J. O'Brien Scholarship Fund to go get a degree , to go register for a class , to go to trade school. She's spent her entire life giving back to the trans community and and being so welcoming and maternal in her care for our community. And that is something that I just I can't I can't applaud Tracy enough , uh , for the work that she has done , the work she continues to do year after year. And so I would say , Tracy Jade O'Brien is my trans hero.


S2: So it's so funny how Kathy mentioned how sometimes you feel a connection with someone who is similar to you , even sometimes before you realize exactly how similar you are. Um , I remember when I was growing up in Wisconsin , I loved to watch America's Next Top model , and I was obsessed with miss J. Alexander on America's Next Top model when I was a youth. Um , I didn't I didn't know what was fully happening inside my brain at the time and why. I just felt this deep connection and obsession with this person on the TV screen. And it was because I could not tell what their gender was , and I loved it. Um , Jay , Red Rose is a hero of mine. Jay Red Rose is a local , uh , trans activist , and I would also use the word icon. Jay is fearless and bold and strong. And I , I wish I could be as fearless and bold and strong as Jay Red rose. And I will also say that in general , like trans people in general are my heroes. Like , quite literally , existing as a trans and non-binary person in this world is a perpetual exercise in resistance. Mhm. And any , any single trans and non-binary person who is out or who is not out is my hero. Yes.


S4: That was my piece , you know , with for for what ? David shared this piece around all trans individuals. You know , our , our youngest client , who at very young ages didn't have access to the word transgender. She had access to. I'm a sister , not a brother. Don't call me that. Like that is a bold statement to be making at a very young age , but I would take it the next level of the people who are members of the trans and non-binary community that have stepped into the work of activism , that have stepped into the work of servicing their own community. I see with my two friends here sitting with me , I see it with my staff , that is. By and large , trans non-binary people under the age of 30 like being at the table , especially right now with all the anti-trans rhetoric that it is your existence , it is your identity , and it is your career to be able to be out and and serving this community. It is extremely difficult work to do. There is a burden that is put on every single one of the individuals , no matter what role they're playing , from volunteers of support group meetings to the people who are testifying up at the Capitol , it is a huge burden. And I watch these individuals like the two sitting here day in and day out , keep showing up and keep pushing for this better future for the trans community. Yeah.

S5: Yeah.


S4: So often I see parents and other allies that are afraid they're going to say the wrong thing to a trans person. And and , you know , when we do trainings , we lean into in particular with teachers , get in there , make the mistakes , make it be messy. You're going to feel bad , sure , but you're going to be able to move to a greater understanding and a clearer communication with individuals. So for allies , they say , step in , have a conversation with the trans person , you know and say , hey , how can I best support you ? And and you'd be amazed with the things that they might come up with and , and things that we can integrate into everyday life , that they can then make it better for everyone in the community.


S2: As Kathy said , there are San Diego school boards that are actively having horrifying conversations about trans and non-binary youth. There are so many opportunities , even here in San Diego , to get involved , to donate your time , to volunteer , whatever capacity you have. There are so many things that folks can do , and I'm going to say something else like me as a trans person , me as a non-binary person , like , I'm tired. I'm tired of having to correct everybody all the time. I'm tired of having to constantly explain who I am. I'm tired of constantly hearing and seeing news articles about how we've lost another one of our youth , or how there's another horrifying bill coming out of another state. We are tired and we need cisgender folks to help us. We need cisgender. If you hear a trans and non-binary person being misgendered , you take the initiative to correct instead of putting that on the other person all the time. Right ? Stand beside us , stand with us. And not just on Trans Day of Visibility and Trans Day of Remembrance.

S4: I'm gonna call in. Earlier I talked about not having enough providers. And , you know , this is a big piece of looking at whatever services you may provide , whatever , you know , situations you may find yourself in , looking at it from the lens of how am I being inclusive for the trans community ? Do I have a place on on an intake form that asks for name ? Well , a trans person is going to look at that and go , well , do I have to put my legal name or do I put my name ? Like looking at it from this , breaking this gender binary down , breaking these , you know , these social norms that we've had around gender and not just assuming everybody falls into the same box. I also want to mention and take a moment to plug that we do have at the end of April , a training coming up for medical and Mental Health providers 15 hour symposium that is virtual and also available in Spanish to be able to bring in more people. Because if we don't get more providers in involved , our kids are waiting months and months and months to be able to be seen , and that is affecting mental health severely. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And you all have a bunch of events coming up this week and later this month. Tell us more about them. Jen , I'll have you start.

S3: So on Friday , April 5th , uh , the annual Transgender Day of Empowerment is being held at 6:00 at the San Diego LGBT Community Center in Hillcrest , that is. Is an annual event. It's celebrating 20 years this year , which is phenomenal. That is my hero , Tracy Jade O'Brien. That is her baby. That event is one of our opportunities to have that public space to give our trans folks their flowers. There's celebrations of trans elders , there's , uh , celebrations of the trans folks doing the work right now. And that's also where we give out our Tracy Jada O'Brien scholarships. So this year , and this is a program that San Diego Pride is the very proud fiscal sponsor of , uh , it's Tracy's. Tracy's program. Um , this year we're giving out 23 scholarships to transgender and non-binary students in San Diego County. Uh , it's a total of about $11,500. We've given out about 125 scholarships total since the program started of over nine almost $90,000 of scholarships to help support these trans and non-binary students. And so folks have done really phenomenal things with them. We just got this story of , uh , just graduated law student who used it to , uh , pay for their , their bar exam. And their plan is to now just be a lawyer to help ensure that trans folks are safe. Right. And so that's the power of those scholarships. And that's what we get to to. One of the things we get to celebrate at Transgender Day of Empowerment on Friday , April 5th. Yes.

S2: Yes. So we'll be seeing all of you on Friday , April 5th at the San Diego LGBT Community Center for the 20th anniversary. Um , another event that's actually happening on that same day , Friday , April 5th , we're going to be doing the transgender flag raising at the Hillcrest flagpole. And that's going to be happening at 11 a.m.. Um , if you've never gotten to go to a flag raising before , it's a very , very fun , exciting , joyous moment where community just gathers around the flagpole and , uh , you have multiple people carrying this giant flag. It definitely looks a lot bigger when it's on the ground with you versus up in the sky. Um , so that's a really , really joyous , fun , very easy to participate , uh , event that that folks can come to. So again , that's the transgender flag raising at the Hillcrest flagpole. Friday , April 5th at 11 a.m..

S4: We have a program called Defending Equality that we are recruiting , training , and empowering parents and other allies to get out to these school board meetings and start laying in real information to really talk about the importance of equity and inclusion in our schools. So I encourage people to check out that program. But more importantly than focusing on events , I want to encourage your listeners to follow all of us on social media , because as we move closer through this year and some of the legislation that's happening specifically here in California , we will all be putting out calls to action. We'll be putting out calls to action around voters and and all of those pieces. And so following us on social media , we get you that immediate information of how you can get involved and how you can create a more inclusive San Diego.

S1: And really , this is a 365 day a year effort. Yes. Um , I have so enjoyed this conversation and I appreciate you all. I've been speaking with Jim LaBarbera , the executive director of San Diego Pride. Jen , thank you.

S3: Thank you.

S1: Also , David Vance from the San Diego LGBT Community Center. David , thank you.

S2: Thanks so. Much.

S1: Much. And Kathy Molloy , founder of Trans Family Support Services. Kathy , many thanks.

S4: Thanks for having us.

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Host Jade Hindmon (left) stands in the KPBS Midday Edition studio with guests Kathie Moehlig, Jen LaBarbera, and David Vance.
Julianna Domingo
Host Jade Hindmon (left) stands in the KPBS Midday Edition studio with guests Kathie Moehlig, Jen LaBarbera and David Vance.

Sunday, March 31 was International Transgender Day of Visibility. The day celebrates and raises awareness about transgender people worldwide.

Tuesday on Midday Edition, our panel of guests discuss the issues facing the trans community in San Diego and nationwide. We also celebrate the trans experience and the joy that comes with being your real, authentic self.

San Diego Pride will host a flag raising event on Friday, April 5 at the Hillcrest Flagpole, followed by the 20th anniversary Trans Day of Empowerment celebration at the San Diego LGBT Community Center.


  • Jen LaBarbera, interim co-executive director of San Diego Pride
  • David Vance, advocacy & civic engagement senior manager at The San Diego LGBT Community Center
  • Kathie Moehlig, founder and executive director of Trans Family Support Services