By Tamara Juarez, May 2017 Web Exclusive.

It's prom season and Trans Spectrum of Arizona (TSAZ) cordially invites you to its inaugural prom, Glitter and Gold, April 29 at the Phoenix First Congregational United Church of Christ.

The event (open to ages 18 and over) will include an evening of entertainment by Phoenix DJ Mike Hutton, light snacks, a chance to win a variety of prizes and the opportunity to get their picture taken by a professional photographer.

TSAZ is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing services, support and a social outlet for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. This prom will serve as a way to further its mission to create a safe space for LGBTQ individuals to have a good time and meet others.

“We try to hold social events so we can help transgender people become more social,” said Stephanie Sherwood, former TSAZ president and current leader of the prom committee. “Sometimes when you transition, you tend to want to hide somewhere and not want to be social. So, these events give people the opportunity to go out and meat other transgender people and non-transgender people.”

Attendees are advised to wear formal or semi-formal attire and bring their friends, no couples required, to enjoy the fun atmosphere.

According to Sherwood, transgender individuals often miss out of significant experiences, such as prom, in fear of being discriminated. And, of those who do attend, many attend as the wrong gender.

“This is the reason why we decided to hold a prom ... so transgender people could get to enjoy an activity that they did not get to participate in properly in the past,” she said, adding that this event will allow people to create meaningful memories.

Kendra Tonan-Lizzarago, TSAZ president, said she understands how important this experience may be to some people, and encourages everyone, trans people especially, to join the party.

“I know this may sound silly but, one of the most empowering things I've been able to do is to try on formal dresses with the intent of an event like the prom,” she said. “If we, as an organization, can give a person the ability to show their authentic self and interact and educate the general public in safe environment, that is the essence of TSAZ.”

The Glitter and Gold Prom is an all-inclusive event and is meant to bring together LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ individuals together to meet and mingle with people of diverse backgrounds.

Additionally, Sherwood believes that increasing awareness and education about transgender individuals helps fight harmful stereotypes that are proliferated in media and our society.

“We want people to see us for who we really are,” she said. “There is still a lot of negative stereotypes about trans people that are not true ... So every time [we] have the opportunity to meet with non-transgender people, it allows them to get to know us personally and see what we’re really like.”

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