Posted by Amber Chang and Kathy Liang

On February 10th, Team Stronger Than You Think (TSTYT) held their very first Symbiosis Summit, a youth-led summit to educate youth about healthy relationships, uplift trans and queer youth, and empower young activists. TSTYT is a youth-empowerment group who strive to educate, raise awareness, and promote healthy relationships in their community. Rexy Tapia was the first keynote speaker. She is a trans Latina women, born and raised in Tijuana, and she uses drag as a way of self-expression and sharing her story. She talked about her experience being a trans Latina women in addition to showing off her amazing lip-syncing performance skills. After the Rexy spoke, there were three workshops available for the participants. One workshop, titled “We Were Navigators,” led by a group known as OurSpace opened discussion about trans activists, such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, and how to make the world safer for queer and trans youth. They also had participants create their own trans-cestor constellations where they’d write whoever they felt empowered them.

Another workshop titled “Not Until Marriage: Dating as a 2nd Gen Teen” presented by a group called Bay Area South Asian Network of Therapists (BASANT) focused on mental health and counseling South Asian youth on relationships and sex. They began the presentation by asking “yes” or “no” questions which we would raise our hands to answer. South Asians experience cultural stigma and expectations from their parents around sex and what relationships should look like. There is definitely a gender bias for the relationships because boys are seen as stronger and more dominant than the girl. There is little to no education provided in the fear that it would do more harm than good. But most importantly, they talked about how parents should not feel afraid to talk to their children about these sensitive issues. Before approaching your parents with questions about sex and relationships access your safety levels and make sure you are not in any danger. Lastly, they emphasized to never stop believing in yourself because you know what is best for you. I appreciated what this counselor had to say about forming a bond with your parents because communication is extremely important.

Symbiosis is definitely a necessary space because it allows youth to learn more about themselves, LGBTQ+ and trans legacies, and they get to learn from people from different communities.