On the evening of March 10, 2015, 50 women met at the San Francisco Main Library for a National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day event. We were there to celebrate trans and non-trans women working together as allies, to build community, & to honor those who have passed. There was excitement and joy in the air; there were smiles all around.
We began with thirty minutes of mixing, mingling, and eating the delicious food from Specialty’s. At 6:30pm, we all sat in a circle and heard an amazing presentation by Cecilia Chung, Senior Strategist of the Transgender Law Center, about “Women & HIV/AIDS: What do we know from the global perspective?” Next there was a combined love note and mapping activity with Shannon Weber, Director of HIVE, where we wrote love notes about what we have learned, where we want to be in the future, and to those we have lost. These were placed on a map of the San Francisco Bay Area.? The third part of the program was a discussion on how all women can be better allies to one another. This was led by Naina Khanna, Executive Director of Positive Women’s Network, and Danielle Castro, Community Mobilization Specialist at the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health.
The “Better Allies” discussion got off on the right foot when Danielle Castro thanked Jae Sevelius, Assistant Professor at the COE for Trans Health, for inviting her to take over leading the discussion. Danielle spoke of the importance of women of color and transwomen being in leadership positions and advocating for themselves. We ran over on time because this is such a vital, multifaceted topic, and everyone was eager to participate.
Next up was the raffle, which had been organized and run by the Family Services Network‘s Chris Harris, Mary Laurence Hicks, and their Community Advisory Board. All participants of the event were given free tickets to the raffle upon arrival. The raffle was extremely well stocked, almost all the participants won some kind of prize. From wooden love note signs (provided by Shannon Weber), to cook books (provided by FSN), to signed copies of Heather Boerner’s book, Positively Negative, to buckets of candy (provided by Buttons), to a $100 gift card to Gallery of Jewels, it was a very exciting and joyous part of the night.
Finally, we all gathered round the #WeAreAllWomen sign for a photo session where we went through an array of poses: silly, serious, regular, and, my personal favorite, sexy.
The event was planned and put together by Hive: a hub of positive reproductive and sexual health, the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, the Family Services Network, and Positive Women’s Network over the course of about a month and a half. While there were some hair-raising planning moments, the event went off without a hitch.
AHF Pharmacy very generously sponsored our event, and their lovely Pharmacy Representative, Kristi Dixon, was there with her awesome shwag-filled table.
From 6:15-7:15pm, HIV testing was provided in the Library’s parking lot by UCSF’s Alliance Health Project.
This event highlighted the importance of trans and non-trans women working together as sisters and allies. We all have so much in common, it’s so vital that we stand together to support one another. The only thing I could have wished for to make the evening better was for it to have been longer so we could spend more time building bridges throughout our communities.