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Second annual TransWeek begins

BY ALLIE WRIGHT | NOVEMBER 15, 2010 7:20 AM

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A group of 30 people sat in the living room of the University of Iowa Latino Native American Cultural Center on Sunday night. As they introduced themselves, each said their names. A little fewer than half also told the group which pronoun they want people to use when referring to them — he, she, it, or they.

These "preferred pronouns" are part of their identity. And those are the types of discussions officials hope student will have this week.

TransCollaborations and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center have joined to organize TransWeek for the second year on the UI campus.

"It's creating an opportunity for conversations that might not always happen," said Elizabeth Krause, a hall coordinator and former manager of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center.

stef shuster, a trans-identified UI graduate student and member of TransCollaborations, said last year's TransWeek activities were very successful — approximately 400 people participated — and thinks more UI students will be aware of this year's events because it is a collaborative effort between the two organizations.

The theme for this TransWeek is "Imagining Inclusive Authenticity," which is geared toward helping students think about their sex/gender and live in a more authentic way, said Krause, wearing a green TransWeek button on her shirt.

She said inclusiveness is on people's minds and the event has gained momentum since last year.
shuster said transgender issues are on many people's radars in light of media coverage about anti-gay bullying across the country.

"It speaks to a wide range of people," shuster said. "[Anti-gay bullying] is more on people's consciousness."

On Sunday, TransWeek also hosted a screening and discussion of Two Spirits.

Krause and shuster agreed transgender students are not the only ones TransWeek is geared toward.
shuster said the groups hope to build a campuswide community in which people are able to speak about their own definitions of gender and providing information on the large range of transgender identities.

Other events included in TransWeek are a potluck and candlelight vigil tonight at the Resource Center, poetry readings, a workshop about feminism, and a lecture about expanding the understanding of gender.

UI TransWeek has also received national support.

"It's amazing that transgender-specific event organizing is happening on campuses," said Sam Menefee-Libey, an advocacy associate for the Campus Progress, an organization that provides support and resources to youth efforts on campuses and blogged about the UI's TransWeek.


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