How do we protect trans women’s rights?


Koichi Iwasaki

Avalisa Gallo speaks about her experiences as a transgender woman
Panelist Avalisa Gallo speaks about her experiences as a transgender woman. Photo by Koichi Iwasaki/the Gateway

The University of Nebraska at Omaha hosted Lozier Omaha Table Talk on Thursday, Nov. 14, and three transgender women panelists shared their individual experiences and stories about their sexuality.

Panelist Avalisa Gallo said she suffered mob violence when she walked back by herself from a club in Austin, Texas. She added that she was about to be killed by her aggressive partner.

“These situations exist everywhere in the life of trans women, specifically trans women of color,” Gallo said.

Although nowhere was safe 10 years ago, Gallo said Omaha “is becoming a safe place and good place for trans women.” She added that the UNO campus community considers well about sexual minority people, and she has never experienced discrimination at UNO thanks to the university policy for sexual minorities.

For Gallo, her sexuality is her core identity. She said she is still a woman but “‘trans’ is my experience.” Gallo said she found happiness as a trans woman because she finally could be engaged to her faithful partner.

Just as Gallo experienced, many sexual minorities face physical threats even in today’s society. According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been victims of homicide in 2019.

Program Partner at Inclusive Communities Katherine MacHolmes said the event was held to encourage UNO campus community to recognize how to protect trans women in and around the community. She said UNO is willing to evolve to be inclusive for gender minority people.

To improve UNO’s inclusiveness of trans women, MacHolmes said UNO should understand who is at the table and who is not.

“We are always blind to quiet people needing help indeed,” MacHolmes said.

MacHolmes also said trans women suffer from lack of health care when they receive a sex-change surgery in Nebraska. In addition to that, trans women are not guaranteed their social position, which they need to exist as human beings, because they are easily fired just due to their gender.

MacHolmes strongly believes that understanding situations that trans women are placed in is the first step to get rid of discrimination toward them.