SAN FRANCISCO – The Tenderloin District in San Francisco has been a documented home for transgender residents since the 1920s.
“Everyone around me in my life told me that I would have a better life when I came to San Francisco,” said Aria Said, co-founder and director of Compton’s transgender cultural district. “As many transsexuals come here as there are refugees from other cities in the United States.”
Said first came to San Francisco when she was 19 years old.
“As a teenage black trans woman in San Francisco, I learned very quickly that while San Francisco was legally and socially validating myself, I went to job interviews and was laughed at. I was spat at on the street,” he said to shares.
He is said to have teamed up with activists Honey Mahogany and Janetta Johnson to form the world’s first legally recognized transgender district. Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, which spans six blocks in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, is named after the historic Compton Cafeteria Riot, the first documented riot by transgender and queer people in the United States against police harassment and abuse.
“We realized that if we didn’t do anything, the fillet would be gentrified quickly. Our history would be completely erased,” recalls Mahogany.
The founders of the Comgender Transgender Cultural District also strive to address housing and employment issues within the community and create a positive space for trans people.
“I think that’s most of the hopes. Compton’s Transgender Cultural District dreams are a safe place for queer, trans, gendered, non-binary people to come to San Francisco and find a more welcoming place,” so Johnson says.
“It’s a big part of what the transgender culture district does making sure we give them the opportunities for success and the tools they need to be successful,” added Mahogany. “Hopefully now we’re really serving to inspire people to do more.”
“I think a future for trans people in San Francisco is one of social, cultural, and economic empowerment, true empowerment, and true inclusion,” said Said.
For more information on Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, click here.