NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Considered an annual day for Transgender, Genderqueer, Gender non-binary, Genderfluid, and/or Gender Questioning Youth, Friends and Community Members, the 2018 Trans Youth Forum will be held at New Brunswick High School, 1000 Somerset St., on April 21.
The statewide event is expecting more than 500 hundred people, and its LGBTQ+ theme aims to inform and educate visitors about issues. This event holds great importance, especially addressing homophobic and transphobic sentiments.
‘‘The Trans Youth Forum is the manifestation of our support for the LGBTQ+ community,’’ said Pilar Iriarte-Pelletan, the NBHS manager of the School-based Services program. Iriarte-Pelletan is instrumental in having the school host the Trans Youth Forum this year.
‘‘The primary purpose of the Trans Youth Forum,” Iriarte-Pelletan explained, “is to educate not only families but students as well. We want people to learn while also having fun, so the event will offer food and refreshments, activities and workshops.’’
This fourth-annual event, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is designed to play a role in introducing many people to the LGBTQ+ community. It will also raise awareness about the discrimination and hatred LGBTQ+ individuals face everyday. In a nation where some elected lawmakers at the national level appear unsupportive of transgender people, it comes as no surprise that 40 percent of transgender adults have attempted suicide, as recorded in ‘‘The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey’’ by the National Center for Transgender Equality.
After he won the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump tweeted ‘‘please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow… transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Our military… cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.’’
This statement was a direct contradiction to his 2016 campaign promise to do ‘‘everything in [his] power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.’’
Despite the current challenges experienced by the LGBTQ+ community, LGBTQ+ individuals, advocates, and activists hope that the Trans Youth Forum can counteract them. As the 2018 motto announces, ‘‘United We Fight, Together We Rise.’’
The Trans Youth Forum is supported and organized by HiTOPS, Garden State Equality, and GLSEN, along with NBHS support. The event begins with opening remarks followed by workshops.
According to Iriarte-Pelletan ‘‘everyone is welcome to attend this event; we want people who are both curious and supportive.’’
Learn more at https://www.njtyf.org
Cristofer Urias Sandoval is a junior at New Brunswick High School and a student contributor to TAPInto New Brunswick