Since 2007, the UNC LGBTQ Center has been hosting a space for non-binary people to discuss identity and feel heard: Trans Talk Tuesday.
The event takes place twice a month at Caribou Coffee on East Franklin Street and is meant for those who are transgender, genderfluid, non-binary or who are still questioning their gender identity.
Terri Phoenix, director of the LGBTQ Center, worked to implement Trans Talk Tuesday when it began over a decade ago.
“We started it because at the time that we started it there was no trans support group that was in the local area,” Phoenix said. “We had a number of students that had made a request for a trans peer support discussion group. We felt like it was something that would benefit the community as well.”
Phoenix said Trans Talk Tuesday began at Open Eye Cafe in Carrboro and was intentionally created to include transgender people in all senses of the word. They hope the event gives the opportunity for those questioning their gender identity, or gender expression, the chance to talk openly.
“I think there’s a lot of power in identifying with other people’s experiences,” Phoenix said. “That can be helpful in that process of coming to understand yourself. It’s also a way of sharing resources in the community: affirming providers, gender-affirming care procedures. It’s also creating community.”
Trans Talk Tuesday is not an educational space, Phoenix said. Allies are not welcome at this event.
“That was there when I started it,” Phoenix said. “We have a lot of educational spaces. We do a two hour trans and non-binary educational training, and that’s a more appropriate space for allies to go. We really wanted to create a space where people didn’t have to explain their identities and they didn’t have to deal with people mispronouncing, misgendering, not understanding the importance of not using dead names, all of those kinds of things.”
Anole Halper, project assistant at the LGBTQ Center, said Trans Talk Tuesday is a space for people to gain support, share experiences and be themselves.
“Sometimes it is the only place folks can try on and venture into new identities,” Halper said. “It is a fairly unstructured environment: folks talk about what's happening in their lives and make sense of it together, and as a facilitator, I trust their collective wisdom. Trans communities have always cared for each other and Trans Talk Tuesday is a place where that community support takes place.”
UNC sophomore Jo Snow came out as trans at the end of August, and has not yet attended Trans Talk Tuesday. They said they wish the talks were on campus so more people could go, but they see the immense value in such a space.
“(Trans Talk Tuesday) gives people a space to be authentically themselves,” Snow said. “They get to be surrounded by others who are like them. It creates a community that’s more like a family.”
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