Trans Day of Empowerment and the Tracie Jada O’Brien Trans Student Scholarship Fund 2024

Celebrating 20 Years Giving Campaign

We spoke with Trans elder and community activist Jada O’Brien to learn more about the giving Campaign in preparation to 2024’s 20th celebration of Trans Day of Empowerment and the Trans Student Scholarship fund that carries her name.

Tell us about the Giving Campaign?

A national school climate survey by GLSEN found that 75% of Transgender youth feel unsafe at school, and those who are able to persevere had significantly lower GPAs, were more likely to miss school, and were less likely to plan on continuing their education. In this current political climate, it is vital that we show our young Trans and gender Non-Binary youth that they are not alone and there can be a successful lucrative life ahead. The scholarship fund is one of the first scholarships of its kind focused on Transgender student success in San Diego. We believe that strong community support can give our local Transgender students the confidence to beat the odds. The Tracie Jada O’Brien Transgender Student Scholarship has been able to distribute scholarships totaling $48,000 to local Transgender students over the past 7 years. I am proud to report that their average GPA was 3.5. Our students are studying law, medicine, social work, psychology, and more. They are attending schools as close as City College and SDSU to as far away as the University of Chicago and Harvard University! By giving to this fund, it will assist in ensuring these students will have access to resources needed and have one less thing to worry about.

What is in the works to celebrate 20 years of Trans Day of Empowerment?

I am SOOO excited about next year’s event as it’s the 20th anniversary of San Diego’s first funded Transgender Care and Support program and the 20th anniversary of Transgender Day of Empowerment. In the past 20 years, San Diego Transgender Community has made vast social and political differences for this generation of Trans and gender Non-Binary individuals. The services this generation now have access to are the results of many community members going on the front lines making our needs and presence shown. Those initial advocates are now our Elders that laid the foundation for this generation to have access to services pertinent to their wellbeing. A vast array of Gender Affirming Care, including Monitored Hormone Therapy and Gender Affirming surgeries are available and affordable through County Insurance. In addition to access to support services provided by people who LOOK LIKE them!

This 20th anniversary event will highlight this wonderful and hard-fought history, our Elders will be acknowledged, our young students will be presented scholarships to assist them in pursue their career dreams, and our keynote speaker will be Stonewall Legend and “Mama” to the Worlds Trans community, Miss Major Griffith Gracy!

Tell us about the importance of not only observing Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th but to have a Day of Empowerment for the Trans community in San Diego? 

The first Transgender Day of Empowerment was held in April of 2004 at the San Diego LGBT Community Center as a vehicle to bring together San Diego County’s diverse Trans community. The goal was the three tier, number one initiative for Southern California’s first Transgender Needs Assessment through San Diego’s first funded (the California Endowment) Transgender Care and Support Program, Project Star through Family Health Centers of San Diego. Number two was to celebrate and acknowledge the accomplishments of San Diego Trans / Non-Binary community. Number three was to build the capacity of the local Trans and Non-Binary community members to create and sustain Trans lead programs and advocacy efforts in San Diego.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th, a day and activities to celebrate and honor those of the Trans community who had been violently taken away by horrific means) is an event that is extremely triggering to my community, a community that is just trying to make it day to day without being physically, verbally, or emotionally attacked.

Both events are cornerstones and the opportunity for our community to come together, share information, resources, and meet new people thus enriching our lives.