Transgender community covers preferred names, other issues at workshop


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Members of the trans-identified community can't be defined by checking a box on a piece of paper.

"I feel like people don't trust that I know who I am," said stef shuster, a co-organizer of the TransCollaborations group. shuster was referencing past encounters with people who continually ask their name instead of accepting the first answer.

Shuster is one member on campus who would like to better educate those about the trans-identified community through events, which open the communication about issues the community faces. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center held its first transgender workshop, "Communicating with a Transgender Population Workshop," on Sunday.

The dozen participants discussed issues such as gender categorization, neutral gender bathrooms, the use of preferred names, and the role schools have in integrating transgender students into the educational process.

Shuster said one of the biggest issues facing the trans-identified community is the breaking down of assumptions.

"It's not just in our community, it's a society issue," they said. "I look at pop-cultural references, and there is a lot of problematic stuff."

Shuster said the common representation of a transgender is that of a male to female, white, middle- to upper-class citizen who is usually dealing with the feeling of being in the wrong body.
"The trans community is so much broader than that," they said.

Shuster said transgender workshops have occurred for five years, and they help dispel myths in the trans-identified community.

"I think there [are] a lot of myths in our society regarding who trans-identifed people are," they said. "So, at a basic level workshops are an important part in dispelling myths and getting information out there."

Preston Keith, the manager of the Resource Center, said the discussions help inform the public about trans-identified people.

"[The workshops] are open to the public so they are exposed to the issues of what's going on," he said. "[The workshops] are cooperative so we get reactions from the community to build a central idea of what transgender is and issues they face."

Keith decided to host the workshop after the Resource Center discerned an increased interest in learning about transgender issues.

"We received a lot of emails and phone calls from people who felt lost and wanted to know more," he said.

Veronica Hamly, a participant in the workshop and a senior at the University of Iowa, said she wished more people had shown, but she was glad she attended as workshops that discuss these issues help to familiarize people with the trans-identified community.

"I wanted to make sure the trans community was represented here," she said. "I'm glad I was able to make it."

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