I started doing outreach with the support group Connecticut Outreach Society and then moved over to the Stonewall Speakers. The Stonewall Speakers is usually is a panel where we all tell our stories and then answer questions. Later on I was also invited to do outreach for a professor at Southern Connecticut State University.
It was fun and we were making a difference. Once I was waiting for our reservations at a restaurant in Hartford when someone stopped and said to me that she now has a trans client and because what we said in class that day she knew how to treat a client who came out to her as trans. Wow!
But I also saw that wasn’t really covering what they need to know. We received a lot of questions about our former names and we usually told them, but I started to question the wisdom in that because they didn’t really learn anything with that question. They didn’t learn that you really shouldn’t ask that question to a trans person.
When I was working on my MSW I realized that there had to be a professional level of training that students and professional needed to know. So as part of an independent studies class I developed a 16 week class in trans issues. Once I graduated I distilled that down into a 90 minute workshop that I started giving at the NASW conferences and from that I started getting requests from out organizations to train their staff. I also have been invited to give guest lectures in social work and other classes.
Some of the feedback that I have received,
2016 University of Connecticut Multicultural Education Class:
When it was announced that we would have a guest speaker for our next class I originally thought nothing of it. I’ve had a good experience with guest speakers in the TCPCG [The Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates] program so far and I was excited to hear what the guest lecturer would say. When I walked into class on Wednesday I remember seeing the back of a tall woman standing in front of our class, thinking she was our guest, and proceeded to sit down and open up my computer. About 5 minutes later the guest came forward and she said that we were going to start the lecture. Once the guest lecturer starting talking and I began to look at her a bit more in detail, I realized something very interesting - our guest speaker was a transexual.
Now being an educated grad student I was fully aware of was exactly a transsexual was and that the transexual community is growing every day, however, as far as I know, this was my first time meeting one. The weird thing however was that it didn’t seem like I was meeting a transexual, but rather just another women - a guest lecturer. Once you get past the deep voice and the 6’2” figure, there was nothing weird or different here, just another woman. When the lecture started I was expecting to learn all about life as a transsexual, and while she did touch on this a little, she was focused more on the big picture. The picture being that there are thousands of transexuals and people dreaming of being a different gender all around us, and often times they either go unnoticed or are looked as weirdly or differently. I think the message she was trying to tell us is that although on the outside we may look a little strange, it is really who they are on the inside that matters.
I got to class on weds at 4 minutes past 2pm. When I walked into the class I was given a soft accepting smile from the person who appeared to be teaching for the day, so I quickly put down my stuff, shook off all the wet, (it was absolutely pouring outside, which is why I was a little late((people can't drive in the rain in Hartford)) and begin to listen. I was very taken by how brave she was and I found her life story to be quite moving and inspiring. The video clips that she played were particularly touching and I found it hard to turn away. Especially the girl that wanted her parent to call her Jazz and to block her puberty. Overall, I learned a lot on weds and I must admit I knew nothing about the subject of trans gender before I walked into class, but I knew a ton after I left.
2015 Quinnipiac University Multicultural Education Class:I was so inspired by Diana this week. She knew who she was and wanted to show the world. Even at an older age, she wasn't content to live out the rest of her life as someone else, so she did something about it. It must have taken so much courage to even just tell her brother. It's even better that her family was so accepting of who she truly is. She also was really informative about her community as a whole. Some of the points she raised, about bathrooms and such, were very interesting. I really knew nothing about any of the stuff she talked about so it was very informative.
2013 presentation at the University of Connecticut Counseling and Mental Health Services,Hello Diana,
I wanted to write and thank you so much for your presentation at CMHS at UCONN last Thursday. When I picked up my daughters (ages 12 and 13) after school that I day I told them I had just heard from one of the bravest people I'd ever met. We then had a very long conversation about what it means to not identify with your birth gender and the challenges and discrimination faced by the Trans-Gender community.
Besides classes I have also done training at hospitals, community service agencies, maximum security prisons, and court houses where I had a number of judges in the workshops.
Okay, why this?
Well today and tomorrow I will be at UConn School of Medicine doing training for the first year med students, it won’t be a lecture but rather a panel and then a breakout session.