Back-to-school event for transgender students set for Saturday

Two generations share experiences of being transgender students

SAN ANTONIO – An event to promote respect and understanding of transgender students is set for 5-8 p.m. Saturday at the Esperanza Peace Justice Center at 922 San Pedro Ave.

Trans Kids Back to School, now in its third year, also called “Son Sus Ninos Tambien,” which means, "They’re Your Children Too" -- encourages respect and understanding by bringing together transgender children and their parents, as well as teachers, counselors and administrators.

“I think at the end of the day, we want kids to be safe, regardless of who they are,” said Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, a co-sponsor along with the Esperanza Center.

Organizers said representatives with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Northside Independent School District and the San Antonio Independent School District will be among the speakers.

Also on hand will be Jamie Zapata, who is now a successful realtor, and Jazzmine Dunn, a 10-year-old fifth-grader, and her grandmother, Elinor Goodwin.

Zapata said 30 years ago, she was punished and bullied for wearing a dress and even threatened with her life.

“High school kids were planning to lure me to some party to figure out what I was, make me strip and then kill me," she said.

She said attitudes continue to evolve, but life is still difficult for many transgender youth.

“You have it at school, then you have it at home and you have it online, on social media," Zapata said.

(Jamie Zapata)

Zapata's words of encouragement:

“You definitely need to be strong as you can and know that things will be OK. As bad as they seem when you’re young, it may seem like the end of the world, things to do get better as long as you have friends, families, teachers, somebody to support you.”

Goodwin’s words of advice:

“Accept your loved one for who they are.”

“Live their truth. Allow your loved one to live their truth.”

Jazzmine Dunn, a transgender student who wants to become an inventor or artist, said the following about her classmates:

“They don’t really care. They just go by Jazzmine or Jazz.”

(Jazzmine Dunn)

Photo courtesy: Elinor Goodwin



About the Author

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

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