Phillippa Bisou Della Vina (left) and Stephen Brooks stand outside Lisa's Place.
Richie DeMaria

Lisa’s Place, a transgender and nonbinary community space located in the First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara, has opened its doors in time for International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual celebration occurring on March 31. To celebrate, on March 24, the UCSB MultiCultural Center will host musical performances and an auction. Proceeds will go toward the S.B. Transgender Advocacy Network (SBTAN) and Lisa’s Place.

Named in honor of Lisa Gilinger, the S.B. attorney who started a trans day of remembrance in the courthouse Sunken Gardens, the center ​— ​perhaps the first of its kind anywhere in Southern California ​— ​is run by Stephenson Brooks, a transgender communication PhD candidate at UCSB. “A place that’s trans-specific is really out on the forefront,” she said. People as young as 21 and as old as 70 have already joined. “To have a cross-generation here is so valuable for building a community,” said SBTAN President Phillippa Bisou Della Vina. Field trips, movie nights, and classes on mental health are just some of the activities planned for the weeks ahead.

With the Trump administration’s recent removal of federal protections toward trans students, a space like this is all the more needed, Brooks said. “When you factor in recent political events and movements, it becomes even more critical that we are visible and protective of our youth. We’re open to any expression, any level of curiosity. We’re here for you.”


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