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First-annual Trans Week kicks off today

BY BRI LaPELUSA | NOVEMBER 16, 2009 7:22 AM

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Audio: Discussing Trans Week



The choice between bathroom doors is automatic for the “Cisgender” majority (those who identify with their given sex), but the decision is complicated for those who don’t fit into this category.

The UI’s first Trans Week, with the theme “Celebration and Remembrance,” hopes to expand the minds of the population. Events will begin at 7 p.m. today with (De)Constructing Gender: Transgender Workshop at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., and will finish with a candlelight vigil on the Pentacrest at 6 p.m. Friday and a celebration at 7 p.m. including music and performance art in Macbride Auditorium.

“The Iowa Promise emphasizes inclusiveness and being open to all forms of diversity,” said Elizabeth Krause, the manager of the UI Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center.

“Well, if we only have bathrooms with man and woman on them, where do people who don’t identify as a man or woman go to the bathroom?”

Krause said any claims to diversity are hypocritical until further examination of these gender issues — and the portrayal of Trans issues are often ignored and usually negative.

“Even the Trans Day of Remembrance has a negative slant to it,” Krause said. “That’s about remembering violence — people who’ve been brutalized and killed — which is important, but if we’re only offering support groups … without any kind of celebration … we can’t we say we’re being inclusive and affirmative.”

stef shuster [preferred spelling], a Trans-identified UI graduate student, hopes Trans Week will open public discussion and draw a community together through education.

“I’m curious to see what folks will come out and to learn about their perceptions of the Trans community,” shuster said. “We kind of think of it more as education for non-Trans-identified people … it’s always good to have people from all different spectrums.”

Trans Week hopes to lend some visibility and awareness to the Trans community in Iowa City, said Katrina Rose, a Trans-identified UI graduate teaching assistant who expressed the need to highlight the issues.

“My impression of the IC Trans community is that it exists, but it’s invisible,” Rose said. “Even if we are invisible, the issues matter.”

Learning about Trans-identity forces “Cisgender” individuals to test strictly defining boundaries, which many Trans-identified people insist is essential to personal and social freedom.

“This is about including a community that’s been excluded and celebrating a community that has been vilified,” Krause said. “It also makes us think, ‘What if I didn’t have to follow any gender rules — who would I be, how would I act?’… My hope is that when people come to these events they start deconstructing their ideas about gender.”


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