Pride Alliance and Women’s Action Coalition hosted a seminar titled “Trans? Fine by me,” on Wednesday Oct. 8 to a packed audience in Newton Hall. Sparked by a recent incident involving hostility against a transgender student in Geneseo, the event was held to bring awareness to the campus community and Geneseo faculty members, as well as show support to those who identify as transgender.
Over 470 people attended, filling the room, according to Pride Alliance treasurer junior Kevin Callery.
President of Pride Alliance senior Bella Rabinovich reported that event planning started on Sept. 30. The discussion included personal addresses from transgender students, demonstrations from faculty and presentations on specific changes that Pride Alliance and the Geneseo community wish to implement on campus.
The seminar began with a testimony from a transgender woman who was involved in an altercation on Court Street on Sept. 25. The woman would like her name to remain anonymous outside of the seminar.
“Incidents like this usually go unreported,” she said. “But we are not going to let this happen on campus again.”
Participants also read an anonymous testimony written by another transgender woman who experienced sexual assault from her friend.
“Geneseo, please take initiative to help stop these incidents from happening in the future,” she wrote to the audience.
Associate professor of English Alice Rutkowski followed these addresses with a presentation entitled “Trans 101,” which covered topics ranging from key definitions and components of sexual identity to the transition some transgender people choose to undergo.
The portion that provided perhaps the most important information told students what they could do to help Geneseo become a more accepting, safe place for all people within the LGBTQ-plus community.
Callery listed several ways that students can make specific changes to transgender perception on the Geneseo campus. He stressed that gender should never be assumed and encouraged attendees not to hesitate in asking someone what her/his appropriate pronouns are. Although he gave numerous points of advice, Callery emphasized that speaking out about transgender equality is the most essential component to achieving solid change on campus.
“By coming to this event, you have shown that this is an issue that is important to us,” Callery said. “We need to come together and act as a community on this campus.”
Rabinovich stated that for the most part, the Geneseo community does provide a positive LGBTQ-plus atmosphere.
“From what I perceive, the student body is generally accepting; although things can always improve,” she said.
WAC president sophomore Jes Heppler hopes to implement this improvement in her organization by inclusion of all women whether they are heterosexual, homosexual, cisgender or transgender.
In response to this surge of support, Pride Alliance hopes to see the implementation of more gender-neutral bathrooms and gender-inclusive housing, as well as student/faculty health insurance coverage for transition-related medical expenses and LGBTQ-plus staff members in Geneseo administration.
The seminar concluded with a question and answer panel including three transgender woman students, a Geneseo professor and transgender female Geneseo alum ’07 Ceridwen Troy.
“I am a woman. I am female,” Troy said in response the question of her sex versus her gender. “Just because the law doesn’t always recognize that doesn’t mean it’s not true.”