Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

T Time club helps build transgender, nonbinary student community

Naina Srivastava
The Women’s Community Center is pictured on Wednesday.

With the warm scent of tea and hot cocoa wafting from an open door, the sound of laughter and spirited discussion spills out of the Women’s Community Center. T Time, a group for transgender, nonbinary and gender non-conforming students, began this semester focusing on community-building and discussion. 

“The goal is to create a space that is both inviting and welcoming to anyone, but especially to the marginalized community that is trans people and the trans experience,” said Yani Valentin, a facilitator and international relations freshman. “It’s a casual space where we can bring any sort of conversation and engage with each other, be kind to one another and have that sense of community.”

The student organization formed after anti-DEI legislation Senate Bill 17 prevented the WCC, formerly the Gender and Sexuality Center, from hosting their weekly Trans Thursdays event. Jayden McCree, facilitator and economics and Black studies freshman said coming to campus without knowing the future of queer spaces felt intimidating.

“SB 17 was this dark cloud, we weren’t sure exactly how it was going to hit,” McCree said. “It’s scary how easily people can legislate over our spaces. They’ve already legislated over our bodies to many degrees. It makes you feel more vulnerable, and it makes you worry that they’re just testing the waters to see (what they can get away with).”

Valentin said that even though they hope SB 17 gets overturned, the club remains a place for passionate people to operate minority spaces.

“I’m glad that out of it comes more student organizing and students (taking) it upon their own hands to keep the things that they appreciate alive,” Valentin said. “Even though the government may not want us to have it, we’ll fight for it tooth and nail, so we can have it again.”

Rather than set discussion questions regarding transgender issues or heavier topics, Valentin said the club talks about whatever they need to that day. Whether it be weekend plans or favorite childhood cartoon characters, discussions center around a community that understands their experiences.

“Trans people regularly come across things that are pretty disturbing,” McCree said. “Unfortunately, the media has portrayed us in a negative light where we can’t even open our phone to feel rested because there’s some politician who’s saying something concerning.”

McCree said coming from their white, upper-middle-class school, they rarely met someone who was like them. 

“It’s really affirming to see people who have lived my experience,” McCree said. “I’m able to see beauty in them and then be able to see in myself, too.”

Facilitator and humanities and anthropology junior Naksh Acosta-Patel said xe hopes to encourage diversity within the group, regarding both BIPOC and neurodivergent identities.

“We work together to establish a community that serves all of us, and I feel prepared to support each other as a whole community, not just as facilitators supporting everyone else,” Acosta-Patel said. “There is no hierarchy in our group, no singling out specific experiences or divergences among our people.”

McCree said while the barriers that SB 17 constructed can be worrying, T Time allows students to still preserve the same spaces.

“Although it’s something that SB 17 has tried to make less available, it’s incredibly important that we fight to (keep) these spaces open,” McCree said.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Naina Srivastava, Senior News Reporter & Senior Photographer
Naina is a freshman journalism major from Mountain View, California. She is currently a senior news reporter and senior photographer at the Texan.