This past week, Binghamton University’s Q Center hosted a series of events in honor of Trans Awareness Week.
From Nov. 14 to Nov. 20, the Q Center held six events to promote trans awareness across campus. Programming included a Gender Bender Clothing Swap and gender bender closet upcycle, a disclosure film screening and discussion, a trans art gallery walk and a trans day of remembrance vigil.
Students and faculty from the Q Center, Harpur Edge and the Human Development Association hosted the events, in collaboration with Harpur Edge, Transcend, the Human Development Association, Stellar Human and Lilac Thrift Co.
The weeklong celebration kicked off on Monday with the Gender Bender Clothing Swap, a pop-up thrift shop in the Glenn G. Bartle Library breezeway. Students shopped at the pop-up shop for clothing from both participating thrift stores — Stellar Human and Lilac Thrift Co. — and free clothes were also provided by the Gender Bender Closet.
Emily Salvemini, graduate assistant for the Q Center and a first-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in social work, said the purpose of the Gender Bender Clothing Swap event was to help trans students become more comfortable with their gender expression.
“The goal of our event is really just to spread trans awareness in terms of our gender bender closet,” Salvemini said. “Also collaborating with the Human Development Association and also letting students know that there are inclusive spaces outside of campus like at Stellar Human and Lilac Thrift where they can shop and feel included in their environments.”
Nick Martin, assistant director of the Q Center and leader of this week’s events, shared his hope that the week would bring more attention to the Q Center. The Q Center is an on-campus resource designed to foster a campus environment supportive and inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. According to Martin, events were intentionally held in more visible and high-traffic areas, like the Spine and Bartle Library breezeway, to promote Q Center engagement and trans awareness in the campus community.
“Our primary focus was leveraging our community partnerships to bring even more students, faculty and staff to the ambitious week of events,” Martin said.
On Thursday, a Trans Art Walk was held in the Bartle Library Breezeway, where art from Transcend and trans students were put on display, along with more information about the trans community. Emily Low, the organizer of the event and a senior majoring in environmental science, and worker in Harpur Edge, said paintings, pictures, photoshop and other digital media, embroidered pieces, vinyl pieces and written works were showcased.
Emmanuella Koduah, a junior majoring in graphic design, had her acrylic paintings and fashion illustrations featured in the show.
“When it was time for us to apply, I took my chance for that spotlight for my work, praying and hoping that it would make it to the art gallery which it did,” Koduah wrote in an email. “It might seem little, but this was one of my biggest highlights of my year, 2022.”
On Friday, there was a chalk and flag the Spine event with Transcend from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Messages such as “Trans Lives Matter” were written in chalk on the Spine, along with hearts drawn with the colors of the trans flag. Noah Zimmer, the leader of Friday’s event and a senior majoring in geology, said trans flags were placed along the sides of the Spine in honor of those killed by anti-trans violence.
“This year we have decided to just have the flags represent each person who was killed due to anti-trans violence,” Zimmer said. “Even though I did not know them personally, they still have an impact on my life because I know that those people could have been me and that violence is very real even in our community and that’s why it is so important to broaden this out to more people who do not know this is an issue.”
The last event of the week was a Gender Bender Closet Upcycling Discussion, hosted by first-year Q Center interns, and the activities closed off with a Trans Day of Remembrance Vigil, hosted on Sunday.
The vigil is an annual observance, Martin shared, where trans lives lost in the past year are honored and included comments from campus student leaders and a moment of silence. According to Martin, the events were a success.
“The events came together organically as they all focus on increasing the overall visibility and knowledge of the trans community,” Martin said.
Melissa Cosovic was a contributing writer to this article.