Queer & Trans Graduate Student Union

Welcome to the official website of the Queer & Trans Graduate Student Union!

The Queer and Trans Graduate Student Union (QTGSU) at the University of California, Santa Barbara provides a safe space for LGBTQIA+ identified UCSB students to socialize, organize, and seek support. We advocate for the rights and well-being of LGBTQIA+ identified students on campus and work to foster ties with the greater Santa Barbara community.

About us

The Org
Responding to the need for an organization specifically tailored to LGBTQIA+ graduate students, co-founders Sam del Castillo and Nora Kassner began developing the Queer and Trans Graduate Student Union (QT GSU) in late 2016. The QT GSU aims to provide community, mentorship, advocacy, and professional development to LGTBQIA+ graduate students at UCSB. Contact us for a copy of our constitution.

The people

Sam Del Castillo

Sam Del Castillo

Co-founder and president

Pronouns: they/them/theirs

Sam is a Ph.D. student in the Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology Department at UCSB. Sam is interested in research related to Latinx and LGBTQ mental health. Sam is also part of the Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network (SBTAN) and Pacific Pride Foundation. Sam grew up in various parts of Mexico, they immigrated to the U.S. and completed their High School and undergraduate education in the Houston area. Sam has worked in a variety of fields, including non-profit organizations serving the Latinx community, research universities, as well as private businesses. Sam is passionate about serving the LGBTQIA and Latinx community and has volunteered at various organizations serving these communities over the past 8 years.

Nora Kassner

Nora Kassner

Co-founder and vice president

Pronouns: she/they

Nora Kassner is a doctoral student in the History Department, where she researches the history of LGBT people in the foster system. Nora came to graduate school after working as a community organizer and seeks to connect academic knowledge to community needs. Nora is a proud Midwesterner who has lived in Michigan and Minnesota and still occasionally says ‘you betcha’ (mostly ironically).

Chloe Willis

Chloe Willis


Pronouns: she/her/hers

Chloe Willis is a doctoral student in the Linguistics Department. Her research focuses on using linguistic tools to increase understanding of highly marginalized and excluded populations. Learn more about her research here. Before starting graduate school, Chloe taught English in Japan for a few years while also volunteering for the non-profit organization TELL.

Aris Keshav


Communications Chair

Pronouns: they/them

Aris is a grad student in Linguistics, focusing on identity and power in interaction. Other areas include trans and queer communities, language and race, sociophonetics, and linguistics for social justice. Their MA examines the discursive construction of intimacy in romantic and other relationships. They tweet about all that and more here.

Jordan J. Tudisco


Education & Outreach

Pronouns: they/them/theirs

Jordan is a doctoral student in the Comparative Literature Program at UC Santa Barbara. Their research focuses on Trans Studies, Queer Studies, Sociocultural Linguistics, Porn Studies, and French and Francophone Literature. Jordan more specifically works on trans narratives of the self and how the genre of memoirs as well as social expectations are constructing the ways in which trans folks can make sense of their bodies and stories through the narratives they tell. Jordan is looking to open up the memoirs category by considering the ways in which trans people construct narratives of the self differently through poetry, video-games, pornographic materials, experimental writing, digital literature, autoportraits, comics and graphic novels, etc. Jordan also works as the Graduate Fellow for Education Initiative at the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. Before entering graduate school, Jordan was a lecturer in the French and Italian department at UCSB and taught French for several years. They are also the proud parent of a white Siberian husky named Nova and spend most of their time walking her or watching shows about food, fashion and home interior decoration.


RCSGD Liaison

Pronouns: he/him/his

Eugene is a second-year graduate student in the Global Studies department, and his research interests include international incarceration, morality crises, critical utopic historical revisionism, and state securitization of sexual and gender norms. He is also a board member for the Queer & Trans Graduate Student Union (QTGSU), is active within his department and the Graduate Student Union, and is part of multiple mentoring programs on campus. He graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor of Arts in both Peace and Conflict Studies and International Relations. While at Colgate, Eugene was involved with the LGBTQ Initiatives Office, conducting Safe Zone trainings and supporting student groups on campus. He also was in charge of the queer social club, mentored students one-on-one, and wrote a weekly article for the student newspaper titled “Queer Corner.” Most recently before UCSB Eugene was teaching Ballroom and Latin dance in New York City, and before that taught English in Thailand. He is originally from Butte, Montana, and is very passionate about audiobooks, floral prints, and trying not to get sunburned in the California sunshine.

Past events: 2018-19

QT GSU Conference: Envisioning LGBTQIA+ Wellbeing: An Interdisciplinary Conference

This conference, hosted by the QTGSU, showcased research by, for, and about LGBTQIA+ communities, focusing on graduate student work. The conference featured three panels and had over 80 attendees.


The purpose of this event was to provide a space for UCSB queer and trans students to socialize. This event was designed to foster in-depth conversation about LGBTQIA+ life at UCSB and in the greater community.


This event, held at the Storke Community Center, was a chance for our members to meet up, relax, and enjoy LGBTQIA+ culture together.


These recurring events provide an opportunity for queer and trans graduate students as well as their partners and friends to relax and unwind.

Contact us

To receive updates about upcoming events, or inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please fill out the following form. We’ll get back to you soon!

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