Interview : SALGA’s Board Member, Shawn Jain

We as a board also realize that we have a lot of work to do before we’ve fulfilled our commitment to being a safe and welcoming environment for all in our community, and so it’s exciting that we are able to launch this meaningful resource in our 20th year of existence as an organization.

In this last of the multi-part conversation, we interview SALGA’s Board Member, Shawn Jain.

Why do you think it is necessary to include transfolks into the Queer spectrum? And is there a specific reason that prompted you and other members in SALGA to look at this resource page now?

Including transfolks in the queer spectrum is important because of the struggle against oppression that we continue to be engaged in collectively. I think that the page came about in large part because of SALGA now having a transgender outreach position on its Board, and Deen really taking the initiative to start this project and run with it. We as a board also realize that we have a lot of work to do before we’ve fulfilled our commitment to being a safe and welcoming environment for all in our community, and so it’s exciting that we are able to launch this meaningful resource in our 20th year of existence as an organization.

What do you think is the greatest hurdle amongst non-trans folks in understanding about trans people?

The biggest hurdle at least for me personally was lack of exposure to trans people, especially while I was growing up. It wasn’t until college that I met individuals that openly identified as trans and was exposed to the idea that sexual and gender identities are on a spectrum. So in that sense, I think the resource webpage can be particularly instructive for allies, as it provides a safe space for us to educate ourselves.

Could you tell us more about this party, the new resource and your objectives- – long and short term and what it means for SALGA?

Aside from being fabulous and a great time, it served as a way for community members to celebrate and learn about the resource webpage. About 40-50 people showed up, and we were thrilled to have the support of other organizations such as GAPIMNY and Q-Wave, who also turned out folks.

The resource is a step in a more inclusive direction for SALGA. It includes information on the basics of gender and transgender people; how to be a better trans ally; a support guide for families; and inclusion in the workplace. We hope that the resource is valuable to people now, but we also want it to be a living page that the community continues to nurture, so that it grows in content and stays relevant.

Could you share other exciting plans you have going forward for SALGA this year? (not limiting to trans folks alone)

We are just entering our busiest time of year, as Pride month in New York City (June) is right around the corner. We’ll be having an exciting slate of activities for Pride, including participating in the Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan marches and holding our annual Color Me Queer party and fundraiser, which we co-host with the Audre Lorde Project.

Later in the summer, we also have every intention of participating in this year’s India Day and the Pakistan Day parades in Manhattan. (We’ve been excluded from both in the past, but we were granted permission to march in the India Day parade last year for the first time in several years.) We also have several exciting projects in the works that we hope to launch before the end of the year, including a program to work with straight allies to combat homophobia in schools; a re-design of our website; and a continued expansion of our youth group.

One important note I shouldn’t forget to mention is that we’ve re-launched our hotline, and the new number is (657) 77-SALGA; the hotline is open on Thursdays from 5 – 7 PM ET and is open to those in our community who want to talk about any struggles, issues, or concerns they may be experiencing.

 

SALGA would love to hear from Transgender desis in the NYC area [Link]

 

Part 1 of this interview [Link]

Part 2 of this interview [Link]

 

SALGA’s trans/ally page [Link]

About the author

Rashmi

Rashmi grew up in India and now she enjoys her time living in one of the queerest places in the world. She started transitioning a while back and is gradually coming out to people she thinks are cool enough for her. She enjoys discussing any topic under the sun and has an opinion about anything and everything. She thinks of herself as someone who can only hold intelligent conversations with people, when in reality she is totally insane and crazy, not to mention she has been highly hormonal recently. *GRIN*