DEC honors Transgender Day of Visibility

Katherine Camarata, Scene Editor

The LGBTQ pride flag was draped over a table with a wheel sitting on top eager to be spun last Thursday, March 31 as representatives of Q*Fam shared resources, played games and gave out prizes to honor Transgender Day of Visibility. 

Q*Fam is an affinity program hosted by the Diversity and Equity Center (DEC) that hopes to unite the LGBTQ community on campus. 

According to resources provided by the DEC, Transgender Day of Visibility happens internationally to recognize “the resilience and accomplishments of the transgender community.” 

The day was founded in 2009 by trans-activist Rachel Crandall to shed light on the discrimination the trans community faces at any given time.

“[Q*Fam] works to create a space where LGBTQ+ can gather and support each other and have that regular connection,” DEC program manager Justin Santoli, who managed the Q*Fam table said. “We’ve done some art shows, we’ve done some game nights, when it was snowing we created snow people outside. We’ve got some fun stuff planned this quarter.”

Also running the table with Santoli was sophomore in psychology Jess Eavenson, who said the DEC was very welcoming to them.

“I started coming to the DEC last year, and I really enjoy being in the space,” Eavenson said. “I felt like I could be myself. As a trans person, coming from a very rural area, this was the first place that I really had my pronouns respected and I felt really seen.”

Eavenson said Q*Fam is important for CWU because it provides space for people that may not otherwise have a place to be open.

“I feel like as a predominantly white, cis[gendered], hetero society, we don’t really have a lot of spaces that are just for these marginalized identities, so having a space where people can really shine and be themselves is very valuable, especially in a small town like Ellensburg,” Eavenson said.

Santoli said civic engagement is a central focus of the DEC, and he is impressed at the efforts of CWU students.

“In my experience as a professional, I have not seen students so engaged in their civic processes, whether it’s protesting for the administration to make change or utilizing student government or whenever there are acts of violence against our community, showing up and speaking out and trying to make sure that, for all the hate, there is ten times more positivity,” Santoli said. 

Santoli said the LGBTQ community on campus has made it clear that it will not tolerate acts of hate. Santoli said within 24 hours of the pride flag being stolen last June, students had put up signs of affirmation (see “‘This was preventable’: CWU student arrested, facing student conduct after stealing Pride flag and lighting it on fire”).

According to Santoli, students often come to the DEC with ideas for protests about social justice issues and the DEC provides space to gather and materials to make signs. 

Santoli encouraged students to vote in the upcoming student elections and speak to their student government if they wish to advocate for LGBTQ rights.

“Whatever their needs are, they have got to make their voice heard,” Santoli said.

Santoli and Eavenson both mentioned Helen House as a resource, a local organization that supports LGBTQ people ages 13-24 in Ellensburg. They recommended students connect with Equality through Queers and Allies (EQuAl), a student run organization that provides a safe space for all identities, according to the CWU website. 

Event Coordinator for EQuAl Malik Cantu recommended students reach out to their community for support.

“EQUaL can help you find people who are just like you and it can help you realize things about yourself,” Cantu said. “Some of our people we have on the board right now, they did not picture themselves as leaders and public speakers … and now they’re on the board and the committee and they’re doing all this incredible work. There are so many different opportunities.”

EQuAl meets on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in Black Hall 202. and Q*Fam meets every other Thursday from 4-5 p.m. in Black Hall 105.


EQuAL: Tuesdays, April 5, 12, 19, 26

Q*Fam: Alternating Thursdays, April 7, 21