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Speaker addresses transgender issues

BY JULIA DAVIS | SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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When the topic of transgender issues comes into conversation, a vast majority of society is unaware of the extent of these issues or even what it means to be transgender in the first place. For this reason, TransCollaborations, a local organization whose goal is to increase transgender justice and information throughout the Iowa City community, hosted Chicago transgender artist and educator to shed some light on the issue.

Rebecca Kling gave an educational workshop titled “Trans 101: Diversity and Respect,” at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., on Tuesday evening.

The workshop was intended to give those in attendance a basic primer on transgender issues and experiences.

“We had a lot of requests for basic information and how people can be allies to trans folks, and a lot of what we do is not really 101 basic info, so we decided to start off the year by bringing in someone to do that for us,” said TransCollaborations co-organizer Zeke Swim.

Kling introduced the workshop by discussing some of the common misconceptions associated with how people think about gender in society.

“We have all of these ways that we think about gender, and many of them weren’t explicitly taught but were told to us by parents, or by teachers, or by the boys’ aisle for clothing and the girls’ aisle for clothing,” she said.

After defining some common terms in the transgender community, Kling went into detail about her experience as a transgender person.

“I did not always know that woman was right for me, but I very quickly realized that boy was wrong,” she said.

Her journey to self-discovery was a main focus of her lecture and helped relate many of concepts that she discussed to her own life, including everyday issues transgendered citizens face that often get overlooked by members of the community.

These issues spanned a wide variety of public facets, from getting more gender-neutral bathrooms to educating health-care staff so that they are knowledgeable about trans issues and inclusive to transgendered patients.

Members of the Iowa City transgender community at the workshop hoped it did well in its job of informing attendees about transgender life.

“So many people don’t even know the rudimentary basics of trans issues, so I was hoping that people would just leave with a general sense that if they’re talking with someone who’s trans, or have friends or family who came out as trans, they could just talk to that person, and not ‘muck up,’ as Rebecca put it,” TransCollaborations Co-organizer Elliot Jensen said.

Besides educating the audience on Trans 101, Kling wanted people to take away from the event a universal message that the desires all people, whether they be gay, straight, or transgendered, are all the same at the core.

“All want to be able to feel comfortable in their bodies, in their presentations, and in being respected by others, and in that regard trans people are no different,” she said. “At the end of the day, we all want to be treated how we want to be treated, so I hope that audiences that aren’t familiar with trans identity can take away that we trans people are not different in that fundamental humanity and are not different in that fundamental looking for comfort and support.”


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