T-Project—a trans-led nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and creating safe spaces for the CNMI’s LGBT community—is growing, with the formation of a “junior advisory board” that aims to amplify the voices of the CNMI’s youth and have them directly involved in LGBT issues.
The junior advisory board—composed of former Marianas High School Pride Club president Zen Ichiro Tomokane, Jigger Parayaoan, Pettie Lucas, and Keo Ngiracheliong—had its first official meeting last Saturday at Canton Restaurant, together with the T-Project’s board members.
T-Project founder Tyra Lyn Sablan said she looks forward to the future programs the junior board will create. She said the junior board’s new perspectives will greatly improve T-Project moving forward. “We’re really excited because this gives us an opportunity to amplify the voices of our youth and have them directly involved. …Our [junior advisory board] members will operate under the banner ‘Nothing About Us Without Us.’ They’ll be the leading authority, and also will give us a fresh and youthful perspective on a lot of programs that we want to launch,” said Sablan.
Tomokane, Lucas, and Parayaoan are also excited.
“I’m excited to be part of this as I do have a lot of friends that would love to have this position, [that would] love to have their voices and stories shared. Through my privilege, through being able to be here, and being able to represent them, I’m very excited and I’m very glad that I have an opportunity to do so,” said Tomokane.
“I’m so excited, too, because we’ve never had [anything] like this [before]. It’s nice to see that there’s a change, that everyone can be accepted. Growing up, there were a lot of people that were scared to come out. It’s a good thing that stuff like [T-Project] is going on,” said Lucas.
“This is an opportunity that not everyone has, and I’m privileged enough to grow up in a household where I’m accepted for who I am. [Many] people don’t have that, so I’d love to be the voice for them, amply their voices, and voice out their opinions,” said Parayaoan.
The junior advisory board will have a variety of responsibilities, such as creating education material about LGBT stigma, developing outreach programs, volunteering at community events to raise awareness, and creating educational social media content suitable for their peers.