The first non-binary Asian Pacific Islander Pride Center coordinator makes history at Sac State

Tranh Pham’s job as the Pride Center Coordinator is to provide a welcoming space that allows LGBTQ+ students to be themselves.


Tranh Pham, the Pride Center coordinator poses in front of the Pride Center entrance on Feb 25. “When students come in here, it is a delight and privilege to be trusted to share that journey,” Pham said. Photo by: Hannah Asuncion

Hannah Asuncion

Diversity Equity and Inclusion editor’s note: The subject of the story goes by they/them/their/theirs and is referred to throughout the story. 

Every day, Tranh Pham goes into what they have described as their dream job doing what they love for a community they said they care deeply for, with an amazing team by their side.

Pham’s journey at Sacramento State started in 2018 when they were first offered a job at the Women’s Center. They eventually started working at the Pride Center as a student assistant in 2019 before being named the interim Pride Center coordinator on Aug. 2, 2021. 

Pham was officially named the coordinator Nov. 17, 2021 and is the first Asian Pacific Islander identified non-binary Pride Center Coordinator at Sacramento State. As the Pride Center Coordinator, Pham wants to welcome and make space for and help LGBTQ students thrive.  

Pham said their job is to be in charge of the Pride Center and keep the door open for students. They also create programs and events for LGBTQ+ students.

Pham went to UC Davis to earn their undergraduate degree in environmental design with a specialty in architecture. They then went back to school to get their masters in marriage and family therapy counseling, according to Melissa Muganzo Murphy, the previous Pride Center coordinator.

“Being a gender non-conforming, non-binary individual, I didn’t know what was possible for me,” said Pham.“I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know my community, I didn’t understand why things turned out the way it did.” 

After graduating from the University of California Davis, Pham moved to San Francisco where they spent time to figure themselves out.

“It was a beautiful thing just getting a sense of who you are and to have a sense of direction,” Pham said.

Pham said while in San Francisco they were doing a lot of community volunteer work. The community work included being involved in political campaigns and volunteering with Salvation Army, Toastmasters and the Exploratorium. 

They then had an opportunity to come back to Sacramento that allowed them to have a chance to learn again. Pham met Sac State alumni who saw something in them and heard that they have a desire to help people, according to Pham.

Pham said the fact no one in their life had ever gone off to grad school before along with their status as a first generation student made it quite difficult for them to know what to do.

Tranh Pham, the Pride Center coordinator, poses in their office in an important Zoom meeting on Feb 25. Pham is the first non-binary Asian Pacific Islander Pride Center coordinator at Sac State.

“It was hard to figure out and thankfully there were counselors who helped me,” Pham said. “It was beautiful just having people who saw a part of themselves in me.”

Before being part of the Pride Center, Pham worked for the Women’s Center while Murphy was still the Pride Center coordinator.

Murphy said Tranh’s story is a beautiful full circle moment.  According to her, Pham was eager to do their part in making a difference in the types of intersectionalities.

Pham made it clear to Murphy that they were interested in being an intern for the Pride Center in the spring of 2018.

“At that time, Tranh was on this like self discovery, self evolution of figuring out what’s next,” Murphy said. “I feel like every student at some point in their academic journey is like ‘why am I doing all this, why am I here?’”

Murphy knew that Pham eventually wanted to work in higher education so when they had the chance to appoint someone as the next coordinator they automatically thought of Pham.

As a Pride Center coordinator, Murphy said a person needs to have someone that is confident about their identity and is not ashamed, which is how Murphy described Pham. 

“I’m proud to say that Tranh and I have a beautiful friendship and I just know Tranh is going to do extremely well and they’re going to take the Pride Center way beyond what I could do,” Murphy said.

Pham said the Pride Center makes sure to put on trainings called “Safe Zone” training that helps provide learning about the basics of LGBTQ+ identities talking about pronouns and how to create inclusive supporting spaces across campus.

“When students come in here, it is a delight and privilege to be trusted to share that journey,” Pham said.

According to Pham, they also talk about the process of coming out, laws, legislation, and practices that are either for or against LGBTQ+ rights. 

Pham said some students struggle with coming out due to being discriminated against with certain fears of rejections, microaggressions, and violence.

“Where else do we get to have this ability to meet new friends who you don’t have to explain yourself to, who will just love you the way that you are,” Pham said.  “Accept you for the way that you are, without you needing to explain who you are, so it’s nice that we can help.” 

Group Photo two: (From left to right) Tuong Le, second year social work and photography major and program assistant. Tranh Pham and Tori Garcia, fifth year family studies and human development major. The Pride Center team pose in front of their wall representing the colors from the Progress Pride Flag on Feb 25. Le said working with Pham and Tori is like a family with students. Photo by: Hannah Asuncion

Tori Garcia, a fifth-year family studies and human development major is one of the program assistants at the Pride Center. According to Garcia,  she has never had a boss that would highlight her own accomplishments and pushed her to be better.

“They know that I have a lot of passion inside of me,” Garcia said. “I’m just anxious to get it out of myself. So working here has been such a push for my own confidence, and for the things that I know I’m capable of doing. But sometimes I don’t realize or I don’t acknowledge it.”

Garcia said that Pham cares about them and knows when to give either advice or resources. Pham also checks in with everyone in the Pride Center every day to make sure that they get the support they need.

Tuong Le is a second-year social work and photography major and one of the program assistants at the Pride Center. Le said working with Pham helped them feel more comfortable being around and helping people at the Pride Center.

Le said that since they’re working towards the same goal for the community they serve that it doesn’t matter wherever you come from just as long as you’re being your true self.

According to Le, she and Pham both being Vietnamese allows them to connect with one another because they have had similar experiences in their lives. Le said that since they’re working towards the same goal for the community they serve, it doesn’t matter where you come from just as long as you’re being your true self.

 “I want to make sure that I give the other person the open space for them to be themselves and feel safe around me,” Le said. “So I learned a lot while working here with Tranh and Tori [Garcia].”

Emilie Jocson, a third-year international relations student, spends most of her time at the Pride Center and has felt constant support from Pham in both her school and personal life.

“They’ve been such a welcoming presence and provided me with emotional support during my first days at the Pride Center,” Jocson said. “Which really helped me break out of my shell in order to connect with other people at the center.”

Jocson said they also try to make sure to direct her to certain resources on campus.  

The Pride Center feels like home on campus, according to Jocson. She said she feels like she can be herself, and has friends there. 

“I think another reason why I like it so much is that I never really had a queer safe space in school,” Jocson said. “Especially growing up in the Philippines where a lot of things are conservative due to religion, being able to have access to these kinds of resources is mind-boggling.”

Pham’s overall goal for the Pride Center is to have “a place for them [students] to come and just talk about whatever they want to talk about, sharing the LGBT experiences and get group support.”

According to Pham, they understand that it is scary for students to go out in the community and go to events by themselves because everyone is scared that people won’t accept them.

“What’s beautiful is that sometimes the Pride Center is hard for students to step into, so we go out in the community for them to find us in a way that doesn’t involve a lot of commitment,” Pham said.