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The Mass Media

What Does it Mean to be Transgendered in the U.S.?

courtesy of the QSC

What Does it Mean to be Transgendered in the U.S.?By Dena Capano

In honor of National Day of Transgender Remembrance, UMB’s Queer Student Center (QSC) presented A Trans Informational Forum just before the Thanksgiving break. Living in a two-gender system in the United States can be tough for those who lie outside the conventional categories of male and female. Confused? The featured speakers at the forum helped clear up some trans stereotypes by discussing their personal stories of growing up in the U.S. as people who don’t identify as male or female.

Transgender, according to a pamphlet distributed by the QSC, is defined as, “Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male and female gender, but combines or moves freely between these.”

Grace Sterling Stowell, the forum’s first speaker, has been an advocate and leader in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) communities for over 25 years. Stowell was born a male, but as she tells the audience, “I didn’t feel like a boy. As a child in the 1960s, you couldn’t define that,” adding, “Our culture is set up as one or the other.”

Similarly, Tom Heitz/Sharon Stuart, has been a lifelong transgendered/bigendered male and female, living his life as a man and a woman. He has been involved in civil rights causes since 1959 and during the early 1990s, acted as principal drafter of the International Bill of Gender Rights, a basic human rights document that helped to shape and focus the early efforts of transgendered activists. “It’s hard to be different in this society,” he commented. He later added, “It’s not about clothing, it’s about feeling.”

Gunner Scott is the organizer/outreach coordinator for The Network/La Red: Ending abuse in lesbian, bisexual women, and transgender communities, a Massachusetts based social justice/social change organization dedicated to ending partner abuse. He talked to the audience about his work in mental health and substance abuse counseling and his experience as a queer/transgender activist.

Mycroft Holmes, the forum’s final speaker, “identifies as a bi/gay female to male and also as transgendered, queer, and a lot of other things,” according to a pamphlet distributed by the QSC. He co-founded his high school’s Gay/Straight Alliance in 1992, and has been a queer activist focusing on Trans issues ever since.

For more information pertaining to the transgendered community, visit the following websites: http://www.thenetworklared.org/, http://bagly.org/, http:///www.youth-guard.org/pflag-tnet/, http://www.ntac.org/, http://www.transgenderlaw.org/index.htm.