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Emeryville 'undertaking all the necessary work' to rename street for trans teacher

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Former high school gym instructor Steve Dain. Photo: Mariette Pathy Allen
Former high school gym instructor Steve Dain. Photo: Mariette Pathy Allen   

The city of Emeryville is in the process of changing the name of a street in front of Emery High School for a late instructor who'd been fired for receiving gender confirmation surgery.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, back in May the City Council voted unanimously to name the block of 47th Street between San Pablo Avenue and Doyle Street after Steve Dain, a trans man who taught gym at Emery High between 1966 and 1976.

Dain won a lawsuit and was awarded $19,000 after the termination, but was unable to return to teaching. He died in 2007 at age 68.

But as the Emeryville Tattler pointed out in a scathing post November 22, the street sign at 47th Street had not been changed in time for the Transgender Day of Remembrance two days before.

"Call it just another failure to honor Steve Dain, who was humiliated by the government here in Emeryville, for being transgender," the article stated. "That humiliation goes on today following his 2007 passing. With neither government agency able to do the right thing by Mr. Dain and therefore all transgender people, the humiliation is on us, the people of Emeryville. Indeed, WE fired Mr. Dain for who he was and WE refuse to apologize here and now for that act of public cowardice.

"It's all talk now in Emeryville," the article added.

The B.A.R. contacted Mayor Christian Patz, a straight ally, via email to ask about this characterization.

"We have changed the name of the street but have yet to hold the ceremony because of COVID restrictions," Patz stated.

Patz said the idea was to unveil the street sign at the ceremony, but that "the longer COVID goes [on] the less patient I become."

City Manager Christine Daniel said that the city is conducting the steps to change the street name.

"Directed by the City Council, city staff are undertaking all the necessary work to complete the street renaming, including contacting all property owners and utilities," Daniel stated. "Once that is completed the renaming will be confirmed and the signs will be produced."

Patz had been a supporter, last year, of renaming the gym at Emery High after Dain — a proposal that was defeated at a school board meeting on June 26, 2019 — the Wednesday before Pride was celebrated in San Francisco and many other major cities.

Barbara Inch, Patz's wife, had been school board president, and resigned two days after that vote. Patz had attributed that decision to bigotry, and the street name change was proposed as another way to honor Dain.

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