Monday, December 05, 2016

Moving Away From Panels…

Since probably early 2000s I have been speaking on panels on campuses around Connecticut and the format are all the same, you tell your life history and that is followed by a Q&A session. I like doing the training but I realized that it was lacking in substance, most of the questions didn’t give an in-depth information about being trans. The questions usually asked were about how we picked our names, are you going to have surgery, which bathrooms do you use, etc. and I wanted to have the students understand the cultural of our community. What we face every day going out in public every day, why there is so much violence against us, why the suicide rates is so high and more importantly how to cut the suicide rate and how to combat the drug use, HIV/AIDS, and the violence.

As a result I have been doing much more presentations in the classrooms, for government agencies and companies. Last week I did training for city employees for the city of Norwich and a class at a New Haven College. The Norwich HR director invited to give me PowerPoint presentation to city employees and  she wants me to come back to give it to the police and fire departments. She attended my workshop at Connecticut Local Administrators of Social Services (C.L.A.S.S.) conference this past September and invited me to do the training at city hall.

At the NAMI conference (National Alliance Mental Illness) where I did a workshop another social worker attended my presentation and she invited me to do training for her staff.

A professor who attended a NASW Macro committee meeting invited me to do my workshop for her class last week and she said she was going to add my presentation to her syllabus for next semester and tell the other professors about my presentation.

In another class for teachers that I did last week the students wrote in their journals about me…
During this journal entry I would like to take the time to thank Dr. _____ for arranging such a wonderful speaker for last Tuesday's class. Diana ______ was able to open my eyes to the success's and downfalls of the LGBTQ community. She gave me an insight to the world in which she lived before during and after her transition. I never knew a person who fully transitioned into being either a male or a female. My only experience with transgender people was at a drag show in New York City in college. I was not sure exactly as to whether they were men or women, my mind was kind of in a confused state. After Ms. ________'s presentation things were a little clearer, I also never knew to what extent their LGBTQ community was ostracized from the local watering holes and hang-outs.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

I enjoyed having the guest speaker this week.  She was able to explain things, laws as well as feelings that I never would have really thought of before.  The presentation helped me to understand some of the microaggressions that transsexual people deal with every day.  That helped me to understand what the appropriate and inappropriate questions are.  It was also helpful to understand the laws and begin to be able to empathize with how difficult transitioning is beyond just the hormonal changes.  As an educator I know that I will teach a transsexual student in some way or another at some point and I feel more prepared to deal with that now.​

++++++++++++++++++++++++

I really enjoyed this week’s class.  Our guest speaker was incredibly informative and even gave us some insight into her own personal journey.  I went into this week knowing that I did not have much knowledge about the LGBTQ community.  There were many terms that I did not know of and microaggressions that I am now aware of that are considered offensive within this culture.  The part that resonated most with me is the process of coming out.  I obviously knew that coming out is an extremely emotional experience, but I did not consider the issue of safety.  Diana explained that people in treatment have to basically have a contingency plan in case their loved ones do not take the news well.  I cannot imagine having to arrange alternative housing just because I wanted my family to know the truth about who I am or how I chose to live my life.  In addition, Diana discussed the options for people who do not come out which can include living a lie, self-harm, or suicide.  She also talked about the fact that having a supportive and accepting family eliminates future issues that come up with LGBTQ children.  I understand that families could feel hurt or concerned because they don’t want their child to endure discrimination.  I also understand that there are cultures that are not open to certain lifestyles, but if parents only knew the statistics involving accepting their child rather than not, I think they would do their best to support them.  This week’s video opened my eyes to how much misinformation children have when it comes to most of these sensitive and controversial topics.  It seems that because they are going off of adult cues they just assume without having any real understanding of the ramifications of what they are saying.  I learned that schools need to do more to educate rather than just dole out consequences.  On the other hand, schools need to ensure that they respect cultures that do not agree with “alternative” lifestyles while still instilling values such as empathy and tolerance. 
So far I have done classes at Albertus Magnus, Central Connecticut State University, Quinnipiac University, Southern Connecticut State University, and UConn.

Don't get me wrong, panels are great and help but it is that I find teaching a class so much more rewarding for me than being on a panel and probably the only panel that I will continue doing is for the Medical School at UConn which I will be doing tomorrow and Thursday.

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