Ezra Cabrera joined Associated Students Inc. as director of graduate studies and is the first openly transgender ASI board member in eight years. Photo of Ezra Cabrera taken by Ayaana Williams. Photo in the background taken by Max Connor. Graphic created in Canva by Mercy Sosa.
Ezra Cabrera joined Associated Students Inc. as director of graduate studies and is the first openly transgender ASI board member in eight years. Photo of Ezra Cabrera taken by Ayaana Williams. Photo in the background taken by Max Connor. Graphic created in Canva by Mercy Sosa.

First openly transgender ASI board member in eight years strives for change

Ezra Cabrera’s effort to help LGBTQ+ students

October 13, 2021

Ezra Cabrera, his fiance and their dog were enjoying TV in their living room when he got a phone notification for his Sacramento State email — a position opening for director of graduate studies in ASI.

He filled out the application. Little did he know, he would soon become ASI’s first openly transgender board member in eight years, according to ASI President Samantha Elizalde.

“As a trans person, you don’t see representation a lot,” Cabrera said. “So for me I saw it as a chance to be the representation that people might need to see at [Sac State].”

Originally a transfer student from Cosumnes River College, Cabrera finished his undergraduate studies at Sac State with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and is now working toward a master’s in the same field.

As director of graduate studies, Cabrera said he is already having discussions with The WELL to provide hormone replacement therapy to trans students on campus.

"I would like to be the representation that I never got."

Ezra Cabrera

HRT is used to make physical changes in one’s body caused by male hormones during puberty. The male hormone testosterone is used to match someone’s gender identity — in Cabrera’s case, a masculine identity. This is the same for anyone wanting to transition to female but prompt estrogen, the female hormone.

Cabrera said he has noticed the lack of gender neutral bathrooms on campus, offering very few safe spaces for transgender folks.

“I would have to take friends over to the bathroom just so that we feel safe,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera said he doesn’t find it OK that trans people have to escort other trans people to the women’s or men’s bathroom for their safety and security.

He plans to change this or at least voice that there needs to be a change.

“I think it’s gonna bring a lot of representation to the trans community and I feel that he has a good voice for that,” said Noah Guidotti, one of Cabrera’s best friends, about Cabrera being a part of the ASI board.

“He just wants the world to see the trans community the way he sees me or himself,” said Guidotti.

Who is Ezra Cabrera?

Ezra Cabrera smiles in front of the ASI Government office on September 21 2021. Cabrera plans to make a lasting impact as Director of Graduate Studies and help the communities that he intersects.

Ezra Cabrera smiles in front of the ASI Government office on September 21 2021. Cabrera plans to make a lasting impact as Director of Graduate Studies and help the communities that he intersects.

Ezra Cabrera smiles in front of the ASI Government office on September 21 2021. Cabrera plans to make a lasting impact as Director of Graduate Studies and help the communities that he intersects.

Who is Ezra Cabrera?

Cabrera describes himself as an advocate and says he has done a lot for his communities as a Salvadorian trans man.

“I throw and help people with queer events in the Sacramento area,” Cabrera said, “I threw a huge social-distanced PRIDE event in Sacramento.”

One of those events was The Big Queer Picnic on June 25 at McKinley Park. The free attendance event featured singer-songwriter Ryan Cassata and DJ Subeaux.

Cabrera collaborated with one of his best friends, Mari Wrobi, to organize the event.

Cabrera said it wasn’t until he got into Cosumnes River College that he wanted to help the LGBTQ+ community and advocate.

“As soon as I started college at CRC, my first classes were sex & gender and marriage & family, and I never looked back,” Cabrera said.

His sociology classes drove the interest for LGBTQ+ advocacy for him. Cabrera said he would take the classes for fun, but through it all, he started meeting friends and hearing their diverse stories.

“I would like to be the representation that I never got,” Cabrera said “I think that’s really valuable.”

Growing Up Transgender

Ezra Cabrera (right) and his younger cousin (left) when Cabrera was 9-years-old, pre-transition. Cabrera said he is proud of his journey to find his gender identity. Photo courtesy of Ezra Cabrera.

Ezra Cabrera (right) and his little cousin (left) when Cabrera was 9-years-old. This was during Cabrera’s pre-transition years and states that he is proud of his journey. Photo courtesy of Ezra Cabrera.

Ezra Cabrera (right) and his younger cousin (left) when Cabrera was 9-years-old, pre-transition. Cabrera said he is proud of his journey to find his gender identity. Photo courtesy of Ezra Cabrera.

Growing Up Transgender

Cabrera’s journey to where he is now was no easy feat.

Cabrera grew up in Galt, a small town 30 miles away from Sacramento. He said he found Galt to be not as welcoming as Sacramento when it came to him being transgender.

Cabrera said he knew he was transgender since he was a child. Despite him knowing, he said he had to convince everybody else who he truly was.

“I knew myself and I knew that better than everybody else.” Cabrera said. “And it was hard because nobody believes you when you’re young.”

Cabrera first came out to his mother, Deanna Erickson, at five-years-old. Erickson said she felt heartbroken as a parent seeing Cabrera not happy with himself. While she said she’s still learning, Erickson said she’s proud of her son.

“Ezra is one of the people I admire [most] in this whole world,” Erickson said. “I’ve always supported my child because I just love them so much. There’s nothing they could do wrong by me.”

At his own school, Cabrera said he had a difficult experience overcoming bullying. He explains he didn’t feel comfortable at school. That’s why he joined ASI, to make a space comfortable for LGBTQ+ students.

Cabrera plans to go back to his past schools in Galt because there are no resources for LGBTQ+ folks, he said. There, he hopes to speak to students about different trans issues, identities and how to use pronouns.

Cabrera’s journey as a transgender man became even bumpier when he got to community college. There, he was outed for being transgender.

“I wish that I was able to come out officially on my own,” Cabrera said. “My grades sort of did suffer through community college, it was a real struggle.”

Cabrera said that he initially received backlash, but that it stopped when naysayers realized that he became happier after coming out.

Cabrera’s journey during the pandemic was just as difficult, especially as he began to physically transition, started testosterone and received top surgery. But Cabrera also finds his transitional journey special.

“It’s something that is special about my academic journey as well,” Cabrera said. “I’ve not only grown as a person, a student, but also the person that I am [today]. I’m so different compared to community college.”

Ezra’s impact and plans for Sac State

25-year-old Ezra Cabrera, standing in front of the University Union building on September 21, 2021. Cabrera is a second year Master’s student at Sac State and plans to continue advocating for the LGBTQ+ community.

25-year-old Ezra Cabrera, standing in front of the University Union building on September 21, 2021. Cabrera is a second year Master’s student at Sac State and plans to continue advocating for the LGBTQ+ community.

25-year-old Ezra Cabrera, standing in front of the University Union building on September 21, 2021. Cabrera is a second year Master’s student at Sac State and plans to continue advocating for the LGBTQ+ community.

Ezra’s impact and plans for Sac State

Guidotti, a 28-year-old sociology major, met Cabrera in their mutual sociology classes at Sac State.

”We didn’t know each other at first, obviously, but he just gave me a comforting feeling,” Guidotti said. “It just was very obvious that we were both queer people. It felt like [there was] some camaraderie in that and we kind of felt pulled to each other.”

Wrobi said she anticipates that Cabrera will be a great support for the LGBTQ+ community and is excited to see his ASI career blossom.

“I know that Ezra is going to be able to be a voice of support,” Wrobi said. “It's incredibly exciting to be here at the start of this journey.”

Cabrera’s fiancé, Kendra Verga, describes Cabrera as “an old soul with a young perspective.” She said Cabrera can be wise with outlooks beyond their age and has a fresh and optimistic outlook on life.

“They’re like the best gift giver in the world,” Verga said. “Not because they buy expensive gifts or anything like that. They will make things with love or like, find things that are really meaningful to people,”

Cabrera said he fell in love with Sac State when he came on campus for orientation day. In the middle of orientation, Cabrera said someone from Queer Union “dragged” him to explore the PRIDE Center.

“It just ended up being so much greater because I was able to [join Queer Union],” Cabrera said. “That experience for me made me feel much more comfortable on campus.”

Cabrera said he hopes that Sac State can implement a PRIDE Center orientation or orientation tour.

“Wherever I do see that there needs to be change, I definitely will say what needs to be said, and I will do what needs to be done so that I can make a change for students in the future,” Cabrera said.

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Shelby Tolly, diversity, equity and inclusion writer
Shelby Tolly joined The State Hornet in spring 2021 as an opinion beat writer. She is now a staff writer for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion beat. She was previously a staff writer for Sacramento City College’s Express news site. Shelby is a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in LGBTQ+ studies. She is an avid gamer, is new to streaming and a die-hard horror movie fan!

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