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‘T-Boy Swag’ podcast highlights transgender topics at UCLA

Evan Ibarra is pictured smiling for the camera. Ibarra aims at making a space for the transgender community with his podcast. (Courtesy of Dan Monick)

By Eric Sican

June 10, 2024 3:37 p.m.

“T-Boy Swag” is spotlighting the UCLA transgender community.

Created by fourth-year film and television student Evan Ibarra, the podcast sparks conversation about topics relating to the transgender identity. Since the show’s debut in January 2022, Ibarra said he has aimed at making a space at UCLA that is specifically centered around the transgender community through the audio platform. With topics ranging from the transgender music industry to trans nudism, “T-Boy Swag: has served as a fun way to vocalize matters and questions pertaining strictly to people who identify as transgender,” Ibarra said.

“At UCLA there’s not a lot of trans people … in everybody’s radio shows, there was kind of a cishet-ness, but even just a cisqueer-ness,” Ibarra said. “I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to just have a trans (podcast) just to rant for however long? This would be fun.’”

[Related: Alumnus’ podcast ‘Gooned’ gives voice to survivors of Troubled Teen Industry]

Born out of spite, the podcast not only fills in the gaps left behind by the radio community at UCLA, but also transcends the content that is considered normative, Ibarra said. Similarly, Ibarra added that the undertaking is an attempt to push the boundaries of the student-led media, with aspirations of making topics less taboo in comparison to the other established productions led by peers.

Hua Chai, Ibarra’s close friend and a graduate student in design media arts, said Ibarra has the ability to formulate conversations about a multitude of topics alongside the potential to cultivate a creative atmosphere that is both engaging. Furthermore, Chai added that Ibarra’s imaginativeness can be seen across all mediums he uses to express his artistry. More specifically, Chai said that it is Ibarra’s zines that can embody the bountiful extents to which his art exceeds the limitations of conventional conversation.

Ibarra said she views discussions of transgender topics and experiences within podcasts as a novel and refreshing approach. Consequently, Ibarra said he positions “T-Boy Swag” as an inventive platform, functioning as a dynamic repository that chronicles the evolving landscape of transgender life and identity. Admitting that the initial motivation for creating such a platform stemmed from a rebellious desire to challenge cisnormativity, Ibarra added that she also appreciates the casual and innovative nature of these conversations.

“I kind of see ‘T-Boy Swag,’ currently, as a living archive of that period of what it was to be trans for me in my life, but also culturally what’s going on and what culture we were getting out of what was coming in,” Ibarra said. “So, like a living archive of trans life.”

Evan Ibarra is pictured holding up a peace sign. Ibarra said he would like to diversify the UCLA media community through his project "T-Boy Swag." (Courtesy of Evan Ibarra)

Because the show is unscripted, Ibarra said “T-Boy Swag” acts as two separate entities. On the one hand, the only thing that makes the project feel like a podcast is the editing and production of the initiative, while on the other, the trans discourse constructs it to feel like recorded conversation, Ibarra added. Luka Fisher, another close friend of Ibarra’s, said Ibarra’s creative choices adeptly weave humor and irony into a thoughtful exploration of the subject matter that he zooms in on.

“It (“T-Boy Swag”) lent itself to the spontaneity as opposed to writing and producing where you have to sit and think, and you have to edit and it’s more of a process,” Ibarra said. “I feel like with ‘T-Boy Swag,’ it’s like I can just shout random thoughts. … I feel like for a lot of trans people, how we articulate stuff to each other is very informal, like on social media and face-to-face, so getting the talking and having that discussion the verbalization – is more the realities of trans people.”

Ibarra said he questions the one-dimensional lens which transgender people are put under when talked about in the various forms of media. To specify, Ibarra said the representation of trans people often excludes them from much larger conversations – highlighting the disparities that many people have in their knowledge about transgender culture. Objectively, Ibarra added the hypothetical discourses and exchanges between the trans population that have been alluded to are ones that have been occurring for a long period of time. On that notion, Ibarra said the topics do not pose the verboten and unorthodox portrayal found in dialogue outside and about the community.

[Related: Podcast ‘Dear Asian Girl’ brings expression, conversation from around the world]

While the podcast was a fun endeavor, Ibarra said ultimately, producing the project took on a role that could be characterized as burdensome. “T-Boy Swag” had only been a live production because it was a venture that stemmed from the desire to create, Ibarra added. Despite the podcast coming to its conclusion alongside Ibarra’s undergraduate career, Ibarra said that he appreciates the image it has created for him.

“I only did it because I wanted to do it and once I stopped, it kind of became a burden,” Ibarra said. “But, I’m happy of the impact it’s had – I’m surprised of the impact it’s had. Other people recognize me for it and I didn’t expect anyone to listen to it.”

Email Sican at [email protected].

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