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Sunday, May 12, 2013

I attended all three of the Is Tolerance Enough? Workshop Series that was implemented this semester by Kory Acosta and I think it was a great addition to the events that the GSEC already puts on. They were very informative and a great safe space to come and learn or ask questions. For those of you who did not get a chance to attend I just wanted to give a summary about each of the workshops.

The first Is Tolerance Enough? Workshop #1 was on February 28th and I really enjoyed it. This workshop focused on the difference between sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. It was titled beyond the binary because it focused on all these topics but in terms of them on the spectrum. Sex was defined as the biological characteristics that define men and women, so genitals and chromosomes, whereas gender was the physical presentation of one’s internal self as well as their outward performance of their internal self.  Sexuality on the other hand, is who one is romantically or sexually attracted to. They discussed stereotypical gender roles such as females being passive and emotional or males being assertive and aggressive. The binary refers to the recognition of only men and women whereas the spectrum recognizes that there are many other identities that can fall somewhere in-between. They talked about the difference between cisgender and trans individuals; cisgender being that your biological characteristics (genitals and chromosomes) match up with how you perceive your gender identity and trans individuals are assigned a certain sex at birth based on their genitals but feel as though it does not match their gender identity.

The second Is Tolerance Enough? Workshop #2 was on April 11th and the purpose of the workshop was to discuss terminology and appropriate language though everyday examples and to learn to be conscious of what and how we are talking to and about others. There was a little overview of the first workshop and then we got in to talking about how asking about relationships or assuming pronouns of individuals can discredit their identity, because if you assume someone identifies as male and they don’t or assume that someone is gay and they aren’t, it can make that personal feel invalidated about who they are, especially if it is an everyday occurrence. We also watched an amazing video which I absolutely loved about using the phrase ‘”that’s so gay” in a negative way and why using language like that is not okay and can really offend people; the speaker in the video did an amazing job of explaining it. Then there were different scenarios projected on the screen about situations in which people said things that offended another person and there was group discussion on why it was offensive and how it could have been done differently. They also talked about problematic terms, such as transgenders and sex change, whereas preferred ways to refer to those would be transgender people or in transition. They also talked about cisgender priviledge, and how that appears in many areas of life, whether individuals realize it or not. An example of this can be as simple as having a bathroom to go in and one that you feel comfortable with and identify with, whereas trans* individuals don’t have that luxury and one of the most dangerous places for them is actually bathrooms because they can get harassed, beaten up, and even murdered.

The third and final Is Tolerance Enough? Workshop #3 was on May 9th and this workshop was a panel that consisted of four individuals who identified differently along the spectrum of sexuality and gender. One individual identified as a gay man, another individual was a transman, the other individual identified as a queer woman, and the last individual was a transman who identified as a queer/gay. They all talked a little bit about themselves and their coming our stories or when they realized their identities and the impact of that experience. They also discussed the binary and how they fit into it or don’t and the pressures that society puts on people to conform to those binaries. They discussed privilege and how that has influenced them in different ways. They even touched on the topic of the very stereotypical representation of gays in the media. It was a very interesting panel and I think that hearing people’s personal stories or perspectives is a great opportunity to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and learn about their experiences. One of the interesting points of the panel was when they talked about how when transitioning, transmen gain privilege (especially if they are white) whereas transwomen actually sacrifice and give up their privilege.

By Michelle Anderson

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