Sunday, March 14, 2021

What Do You Think?

I am in a quandary I can see both sides of the argument for… a trans inclusive district. In San Francisco the Tenderloin district where the Compton Cafeteria uprising happen, is the home of many trans people. Just like the Castro district was know as the gay district the Tenderloin is know for its population of trans people.
San Francisco celebrates 1st transgender district in the world
By Chris Bollini
March 11, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco's Tenderloin District has been a documented home for transgender residents since the 1920s.

"Everyone around me in my life told me that I'd have a better life when I came to San Francisco," co-founder and executive director of the Compton's Transgender Cultural District Aria Said reveals. "So many trans people come here like refugees from other cities in the United States."

Said first came to San Francisco when she was 19 years old.
She helped form the first trans district in the world…
Said united with fellow activists Honey Mahogany and Janetta Johnson to form the first legally-recognized transgender district in the world. Encompassing six blocks in San Francisco's Tenderloin District, Compton's Transgender Cultural District was named after the historic Compton's Cafeteria Riot, the first documented uprising of transgender and queer people in United States against police harassment and abuse.

"We realized that if we didn't do something; the Tenderloin was quickly going to become gentrified and our history was going to be completely erased," Mahogany recalls.
Their mission statement according to their website,
The mission of the Transgender District is to create an urban environment that fosters the rich history, culture, legacy, and empowerment of transgender people and its deep roots in the southeastern Tenderloin neighborhood. The transgender district aims to stabilize and economically empower the transgender community through ownership of homes, businesses, historic and cultural sites, and safe community spaces.
Now here is where my quandary comes in, isn’t it our goal through out the United State to foster homes, businesses, historic and cultural sites, and safe community spaces for all trans people? I can see maintaining our historic and cultural sites like Compton's, but also sites like the Cooper’s Donuts Uprising in 1959 and 1965 Dewey’s Lunch Counter Protest.

But as for homes, businesses, and safe community spaces I don’t want to see it concentrated in one district or one side of the tracks, I want it everywhere. I want to feel safe where ever I go not just in “Our neighborhood.” I am not knocking the good work that cultural district is doing but rather the concentration of people in one area.

Would you be harassed if you go outside your district? If you go to the Castro district would you be told to go back where you belong? Will this ghettoize us?

But on the other hand I can see that some trans people might like a space where "Everyone knows your name." Where you can let your hair down and not be worried about being judged.

In the work that I do I constantly hear the question that begins with “Where is a safe place for trans people to go ______?” Fill in the blank… “for a doctor” “for an apartment” “for a job” “for a halfway house” “for a retirement home.”

When I was in grad school a group of cisgender students came up to me and wanted me to sign a petition to make single stall bathroom “Gender Neutral” bathrooms. I asked why? We can use the bathrooms of our gender identity already why make single stall bathroom “Gender Neutral” bathrooms? That I was concerned that we would be forced to only use “Gender Neutral” bathrooms and not any bathroom.

We should change the narrative to why isn’t it a safe place for us? We shouldn’t have to limit our choices whether it is a place to live, work, play, or do our business.

What do you think about having a district of our own?


  1. The world should be our "district."

  2. I lived and worked in San Francisco from about 1979 - 1985, and well remember partying with friends (gay and straight) on Polk Street and in the Castro. At the time they were known as the gay-friendly areas, and it was terrific. However, gay/lesbian people lived all over the City and became known as good neighbors who improved the neighborhoods they lived in.

    I've now lived in Seattle for the last four years. It's common knowledge that the Capital Hill area is the most LGBTQ friendly area, although all of the Puget Sound is pretty friendly. Like in SF, LGBTQ people live everywhere around here; most can't afford to live in Capital Hill.

    I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the idea of a trans district. I see it as potentially self-isolating and because of its exclusivity getting in the way of our being integrated into the lives of cis people, gay and straight.

    Further, I worry that if trans districts emerge that cis people might very well suggest that trans people stay there. Social pressure is so hard to combat. Wouldn't such districts possibly foster such social prejudice?

    As it was with gays and lesbians in the 70s and 80s I think, sure, it's fun and nice to have areas that we know are safe. But in general we must be fully integrated into society to they will gradually come to realize that we're just like everyone: human.

  3. Safety aside, there is a big difference between the need for a separate district for gay people and one for trans people. While both groups benefit from the support and freedom by gathering with others they see to be like themselves, gay people are often looking for a sexual partner; trans people don't usually have that goal. Gay districts and venues were, not that long ago, the best way to meet up and hook up. A whole lifestyle developed around it. Most trans people I know balk at the mention of a trans lifestyle, though.

    The legalization of same-sex marriages has cut into the "gay lifestyle model." Social media has made it even safer for meeting potential partners. There are other places, such as gay churches, for some to gather. I did witness, firsthand, however, the decommissioning of a long-standing gay church, as membership was slowly lost to other gay-accepting "straight" churches. Just like the dwindling of gay bars, gay churches have become less relevant.

    As a trans woman, I will be forever grateful to the local trans group that afforded me the safe place for which I could finally leave my house. The group soon lost much relevance for me, though, as I came to realize my own individuality as a trans woman. I'm happy that the group still exists for those who feel they need it, as well as for those who, like me, find it to be an important steppingstone in their transgender journeys.

    I agree with Emma. Trans people need not be segregated (not by others, and certainly not by their own doings). In fact, we met each other for happy hour in a regular Seattle bar, no differently than did the cis people who were seated all around us. I have to say, though, that I feel less-safe these days in the Capital Hill area than I do most other places in Seattle. I don't like the idea that the haters would easily know where to find me.