Rachel Schiff ’10, one of three coordinators for Trans Awareness Week (TAW), knows the communicative power of art and the purpose it serves for the LGBT community.

“Everyone can take something out of a figure drawing. And that personal experience, coupled with an artistic statement, can create connections between people who have never had to address gender identity concerns and individuals who think about those issues every day,” she said.

TAW opened on Wednesday with drag artist Matt Richardson’s Master’s Tea, “Race, Gender Performance and the Making of White Masculinity.” Other events, including the week-long Trans/Genderqueer Art and Photography Exhibit at the Af-Am house, a drag ball this Saturday in Morse dining hall and a discussion of New York’s Gay Liberation Movement in the early ’70s, round out the week.

The week’s program confronts the challenges that face the transgender community.

“The most atrocious crimes trans people face are the variety of ways in which society and the media silences their experiences and victimization,” Schiff said. “Transgender and transsexual people are murdered every year based on their non-conforming gender presentation, and the media outright ignores their plight.”

The lack of gender-neutral bathrooms and housing at Yale is of particular concern to the LGBT community.

“Gender neutral housing [would] benefit trans students as well as the general Yale community,” Schiff said. “Yale doesn’t even have basic necessities such as gender-neutral bathrooms, which would exponentially increase the comfort level of genderqueer and trans students.”

TAW aims to promote understanding between trans/genderqueer students and the Yale community at large.

“[The goal is that] transgender people know they have people outside of the genderqueer/trans world to rely on in their everyday struggles,” Schiff said.