T-town exhibit visits SPSCC

The T-Town Transgender Neighbors photo exhibit is on display now at South Puget Sound Community College’s Office of Student Life. This gallery is meant to introduce our transgender “neighbors” to the South Sound community.

The gallery was brought to SPSCC by Senator for Legislative Affairs Matthew Shrader, and was organized by Gender Alliance of the South Sound, Pride Foundation, and Rainbow Center, all local organizations.

Generally, transgender individuals identify with a gender that is not traditionally associated with their biological sex.

Currently the gallery is on the second floor of the Student Union Building. This exhibit contains the photographs of a few of our transgender neighbors. Underneath their photos are the stories that they have chosen to share with our community.

Their stories include their first “trans-notions”, adolescent coping, career, relationships, coming out, their journey into the future, and words of wisdom.

The T-Town website states “The people in this gallery have gone through the ringer in their pursuit of happiness, in proclaiming their right to live an authentic life, and be true to themselves.”

Shrader first saw the exhibit while working as a coordinator for Capital City Pride this year.

Upon running into Victoria Quaintance, who is a community member featured in the exhibit, he learned that the exhibit was free of charge when brought to schools, churches, and other community locations.

Shrader decided that SPSCC should feature it in order to educate our students about the lives of these individuals.

“This photo exhibit is not just art, it tells the stories of struggles, challenges, and victories! The transgender community does not get a lot of attention and when it does it is not in a positive light,” he said.

According to Shrader this gallery is a way for people in our community to share their lives with us. It is art, but it is so much more.

“This exhibit tells the story of 13 people who identify as trans and shows them as they are, ordinary members of our community who have families, different hobbies, and work in different industries,” he said.

Shrader believes that this gallery is a great opportunity to help people learn. According to T-Town’s website, they are sharing with the community what it means to be transgender.

Trevor Fetbrandt, a student at SPSCC, is not bothered by the exhibit and believes that this gallery is a tool to educate the students on our transgender neighbors.

To him, a lot of people generally joke about this topic. He feels that sometimes people will throw out “little stereotypical slurs…about that particular topic.”

Fetbrandt said people ought to be more understanding of those who are different and not be so childish about this subject.

“We should be able to handle that some people are different,” he said. “I know a lot of my friends make dumb jokes about transvestites or people who go both ways and I think that it should just stop. It’s not appropriate and it can hurt people’s feelings.”

According to T-Town’s website, transgender individuals have been present throughout history and in all cultures. It is a natural and biological thing for some people.

The website states that there may be several thousand or more people in the South Sound area that identify with the transgender community.

In describing the individuals featured, T-Town said “They dare to cross the gender divide, sometimes just for fun, and sometimes to completely transform their identity. In a sense, they are the ultimate individualists and non-conformists.”

The ending statements on T-Town’s website want to remind the community that this is an important subject. “As with any relationship, your reaction to an attitude toward your transgender neighbors will say less about them than what it says about you.”