Over the past few weeks, community members of Salt Lake and Salt Lake Community College held protests and marches in an effort to raise awareness of transgender issues and people.
Two demonstrations occurred at the Utah State Capitol last month — a protest against the legislature’s transgender sports ban on March 24 and a march for International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31. On April 6, SLCC students gathered on the steps of the college’s South City Campus to voice their dissatisfaction over a failure to include all-gender restrooms in the new Applied Technology Center (ATC) at Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
March for transgender visibility
The march on March 31 featured transgender protesters who shared their stories of growing up in Utah.
“I’m happy all these youth got to speak their story because kids are important, and these kids matter,” said Dallas Rivas, board member for Project Rainbow and principal organizer for the Transgender Visibility March.
Percy Cordero expressed joy in being surrounded by so many like themselves, saying, “I’ve always celebrated Transgender Visibility Day by myself, so it’s a little overwhelming but it’s really cool to see everyone here.”
Speaking to the crowd, Kevin Reynolds said, “What is so wrong with the world that I have to be afraid of walking down the hallway or street? I should feel as safe as any cis-gendered person.”
Many who spoke at the event only referred to themselves by their first names. “It’s already really hard for most trans kids, especially in a place like Utah, so they don’t want to give out info that might lead to harassment later,” Cordero said.
Olivia Jaramillo, director of public outreach at Equality Utah, closed the event and said, “never go back in the closet, you are loved.”
Rivas expressed excitement for a positive gathering for transgender people in Utah. “Usually when we get together, we’re mourning — someone got killed or murdered — but right now, we’re just celebrating our lives,” he said.
All-gender bathrooms not included in rebuilt ATC
After a proposal to add all-gender, multi-stall bathrooms to the new ATC building fell through, Lauren Hamilton-Soule, president of SLCC’s Queer Student Association, organized an event to write their frustrations with the college on the steps of the South City Campus.
“They keep giving us excuse after excuse, and they’re really empty excuses,” Hamilton-Soule said, “so I wanted to do something small and try to encourage administration to do the right thing.”
Peter Moosman, coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center, said he doesn’t fully understand why the college is dragging its heels on all-gender restrooms.
“It’s literally safer for every person that uses them and they’re more private and more comfortable … It’s a win-win for everyone,” Moosman said.
A statement released by SLCC said that the college could not move forward with the proposal due to a need to abide by current Utah construction code. When a temporary divider was proposed to satisfy current code, media representative Erika Shubin said that the design and construction process of the ATC building was “too far along.”
Hamilton-Soule said she believes SLCC is hesitant to move forward on all-gender bathrooms due to a possible response from the greater Utah community.
“Being bigoted and hateful towards trans people is one of the last socially acceptable things for people who want to act this way,” she said. “This is the last opportunity for them to do so.”
Hamilton-Soule urged SLCC to abide by its own values and make this change, adding that the college cannot claim inclusivity if it does not include transgender people.
On April 14, Moosman and members of SLCC administration — including Charles Lepper, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management — will sit down for a forum to further discuss the issue.
Moosman hopes to get the college to commit to moving forward on the issue.
“We’re hoping for actual commitment, we want written support from our administrators that take these [proposals] seriously and implement them,” Moosman said.