Trans*Action: transformative stories from transitioning students
Justyn Melrose, Staff Writer
April 20, 2012
Filed under Features
Accompanied by the sound of coffee grinding, softly spoken conversation and the ever-present smell of Greenleaf coffee, a handful of Guilford students watched as a group of transgender college students’ lives unfolded on screen.
On April 9 and 11, newly formed Guilford group Trans*Action brought a glimpse of the world of trans issues to the Greenleaf in a screening of the television series “TransGeneration.” The series follows four transgender college students, bringing to light the difficulties they face in terms of their gender and sexual identities.
The screening was only the first event planned by the blossoming group Trans*Action. This group has begun work to offer education on trans-related issues and provide community for students who fall under the trans umbrella, including transgender, transsexual, genderqueer and gender non-conforming students.
“Ultimately (this kind of work helps to) create a safer space for all people, cisgender (and) trans-identified,” said junior John St. Louis, co-founder of Trans*Action. “There’s a space for challenging and exploring and pushing around the range of gender, and also knowing that we all matter and knowing that we all are worthy of space and dignity, our right to pee and be safe and feel safe in our own skin.”
Trans*Action showed “TransGeneration” in part to bring up problems involved with prescribed hormones and sexual reassignment surgery.
“(The) assumptions about surgery and (the) assumptions of what being trans is like, I think, need to be challenged and need to be questioned,” said St. Louis.
St. Louis added that Trans*Action organized this screening in hopes of offering education to students and that it is “important … to see and share trans experience.”
In the series, the stories of male-to-female trans college students Raci Ignacio and Gabbie Gibson are very different, despite a potentially similar gender identity. While Raci struggles to afford legal hormones, Gabbie awaits her very expensive gender reassignment surgery, paid for by her family.
These are just two of the four trans students the series features and just one of many issues they face being trans.
Though initially attending for reasons like “my bike is here” or “the only other thing I’d do while doing my homework is watch ‘How I Met Your Mother,’” the students watching offered lively contributions to a discussion after the screening and found a lot of worth in the showing.
“I think it’s interesting how different even the families that are quote-unquote accepting are,” said senior Richard Johnson. “Raci’s family is very supportive, but they all use ‘he’ and male pronouns, despite helping her find hormones … That’s supporting, but is that acceptance necessarily?”
“It’s so hard for me to find the things that I want to be that I feel like reflect who I am,” said senior Susan Robare. “I can’t imagine my own self not reflecting (who I am).”
Next year, John St. Louis and Trans*Action hope to hold more events to continue the conversation and get more students interested, informed and involved.
“I hope that there (are) more trans-identifying students or people who are trans-identified that I haven’t met yet on campus that can get in touch with us,” St. Louis said. “But I’m excited. I’m glad that there’s a trans-specific (group) on campus.”
For more information on Trans*Action, contact John St. Louis at firstname.lastname@example.org.