SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco's Tenderloin District has been a documented home for transgender residents since the 1920s.
"Everyone around me in my life told me that I'd have a better life when I came to San Francisco," co-founder and executive director of the Compton's Transgender Cultural District Aria Said reveals. "So many trans people come here like refugees from other cities in the United States."
Said first came to San Francisco when she was 19 years old.
"As a Black, trans woman as a teenager in San Francisco, I learned very quickly that while San Francisco affirmed me legislatively, socially, I had walked into job interviews and been laughed at. I had been spit on in the street," Said shares.
Said united with fellow activists Honey Mahogany and Janetta Johnson to form the first legally-recognized transgender district in the world. Encompassing six blocks in San Francisco's Tenderloin District, Compton's Transgender Cultural District was named after the historic Compton's Cafeteria Riot, the first documented uprising of transgender and queer people in United States against police harassment and abuse.
"We realized that if we didn't do something; the Tenderloin was quickly going to become gentrified and our history was going to be completely erased," Mahogany recalls.
Compton's Transgender Cultural District founders also strive to address housing and employment issues within the community as well as cultivate an affirming space for trans people.
"I think that's the biggest part of the hopes, the dreams of Compton's Transgender Cultural District is a safe place for queer, trans and gender non-conforming, non-binary people to come to San Francisco and find a more welcoming space," Johnson says.
"Making sure that we are providing them with the opportunities to succeed and the tools that they need in order to succeed is a huge part of what the Transgender Cultural District is doing," Mahogany adds. "Hopefully, what we are really doing now is serving to inspire people to do more."
"I think a future for trans people in San Francisco looks like social, cultural and economic empowerment, true empowerment and true inclusion," Said states.
For more information on Compton's Transgender Cultural District, visit here.