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Oct 21, 2018
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Kaede Acuña kicks off the Poetry Jam on Nov. 8, 2017 in the Vintage Room at Fresno State. The Poetry Jam is an open mic event hosted by the Cross Cultural and Gender Center. (Benjamin Cruz/The Collegian)

Trans artists take to the stage to voice oppression

The Cross Cultural and Gender Center’s Poetry Jam provided a way for transgender artists to voice oppression they face and to listen to other cultural perspectives.

Performances encouraged transgender people to stand up for their rights and challenge those who ignore them. Other performances included personal or political works.

Andres Fierro, a student coordinator of the event, said the event was meant to give transgender artists a way to express their artwork with the community. He said the Cross Cultural and Gender Center, through Poetry Jam, tried to bridge a gap between transgender and other communities.

“Most people, if you ask them, will say, ‘Who are transgender people?’ They’re just as confused as anybody else, but when you can host an event that brings people together and use the art of poetry to bring people to the table,” Fierro said, “then they’re exposed to that.”

“Once those walls come down, then we can start to relate to each other as human beings and have that respect and not [just a] tolerance but [an] acceptance of our other,” Fierro added. “And [transgender people] wouldn’t become the ‘other’ anymore.”

November’s Poetry Jam took place in the Vintage Room at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Kaede Acuña, a poet, read their moving poem about the negative treatment they’ve endured because they don’t identify with their assigned gender at birth.

“How much more evidence will be demanded from us before you admit that we’ve always been around?” Acuña said. “We will not be silent anymore.”

“I’m not an it or a thing. I’m just like you,” they added. “Despite what you’ve been told, I’m human too.”

Acuña said they wanted to bring attention to how their activism and transgender identities intersect.

“Often-times our voices are only heard in LGBT spaces [but] it’s important to have them in mixed spaces too so that folks can hear that and have that representation,” Acuña said.

They added that the events are all about making sure transgender people are visible.

Acuña said they loved the Poetry Jam and the poetry that was performed. They said they got the chills from hearing different poetry being read due to the way it related to current political situations.

Aidan Castro, a poet, read his motivational poem about ignorance because he identifies his gender different than he used to.

“My loved ones say, ‘but Aiden you can choose not to read.’ It’s not about choosing not to read,” Castro said. “It’s about people not choosing to see.”

“I can’t even take a piss without the fear of being attacked,” he said. “There’s more to us aside from our bodies.”

Castro said the diversity he sees on campus is good and he felt included at the event.

“I really liked hearing other transgender poets get to actually express their emotions as well as people from other walks of life,” Castro said.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is scheduled for Nov. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at Fresno State’s North Gym Room, room 118, to memorialize transgender people who have died.

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