The Complexities of Place and Identity
While the Tenderloin might be known for its significant trans population, the neighborhood is demographically diverse with significant Asian and LatinX immigrant populations. During the 1950s and 60s, the Tenderloin was home to a thriving Jazz scene, hosting the likes of Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and John Coltrane.  Following the Vietnam War, refugee communities from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos sought refuge in this neighborhood, opening up a variety of restaurants and grocery stores that the Tenderloin is known for today.  While visibility is key and the establishment of cultural districts can help to build power in marginalized communities, identity-based districts and labels such as “The Trans district” or “Latin quarter” raise the issues of fixed identity. By giving the appearance of a monolithic identity and prioritizing one culture’s claim to place, such districts can ignore the coexistence of multiple cultural groups and how the neighborhood’s identity has and will evolve over time. On this topic, Donna Graves suggests naming districts after the place, such as “The Tenderloin District,” to reinforce the existence of multiple identities. 
Intersectionality & Contemporary Relevance
Intersectional understandings of place become increasingly crucial in light of recent discussions surrounding race, poverty, political brutality, and the coronavirus pandemic. Undoubtedly, the struggle for Trans rights is also rooted in legacies of racism and police brutality. The Compton Riots, which preceded Stonewall, began in August 1966 at the Tenderloin’s Compton’s Cafeteria after a trans woman threw coffee at a police officer out of fear and exasperation from the constant harassment.  Recently, the district and its supporting nonprofit have suffered financial hardships of over a $150,000 deficit as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Executive Director, Aria Sa’id needed to cut her position in half and apply for an emergency rent relief grant in order to keep their office. Furthermore, the number of houseless individuals encamped in the neighborhood has exploded by 285% since the beginning of the pandemic.  While San Francisco is only 6% Black, the homeless population is nearly 37% Black.  Despite these overlapping marginalities, Black Lives Matter activism and increased social media exposure has helped to illuminate this cultural district and raise the needed funds through donations. Although cultural districts may not be the cure-all for this nation’s many ills, Compton’s Trans Cultural District has the potential to serve as a critical model for the preservation and intangible and tangible heritage, economic development, as well as a form of cultural and economic reparations.
1. 97% of residents in the Tenderloin rent their living spaces as opposed to the 61% estimate for the City of San Francisco. 2019 ACS.
2. Wealth-X, “Billionaire Census 2019,” Accessed 6 February 2020. https://www.wealthx.com/report/the-wealth-x-billionaire-census-2019/
3. Tenderloin Museum, “Celebrating Jazz at the Blackhawk,” Tenderloin Museum 2016. Accessed 6 February 2021. http://www.tenderloinmuseum.org/events/celebrating-blackhawk-jazz
4. Katherine Bishop, “THE TENDERLOIN TIMES: A VOICE IN SAN FRANCISCO,” The New York Times May 7, 1987. Accessed 8 February 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/07/us/the-tenderloin-times-a-voice-in-san-francisco.html#:~:text=Although%20the%201980%20census%20found,the%20Tenderloin's%20estimated%2025%2C000%20population.
5. Donna Graves, “Interview with Julia Marchetti,” 15 August 2020.
6. Chloe Veltman, “World's First Transgender Cultural District Looks to the Past - and the Future,”KQED January 13, 2019. Accessed 6 February 2021. https://www.kqed.org/news/11717648/worlds-first-transgender-culture-district-looks-to-the-past-and-the-future
7. Vivian Ho, “'A true emergency:' Covid-19 pushes homeless crisis in San Francisco's Tenderloin to the brink,” The Guardian, May 19, 2020. Accessed 6 February 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/19/a-true-emergency-covid-19-pushes-homeless-crisis-in-san-franciscos-tenderloin-to-the-brink
8. Vivian Ho, “'It's a cycle': the disproportionate toll of homelessness on San Francisco's African Americans,” February 21, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/21/san-francisco-bay-area-homelessness-african-americans
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